NEW HOPE, PA – The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission has approved a contract for a pre-construction traffic study the agency is obligated to conduct prior to the construction launch for the upcoming Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project, which is currently in its final-design phase of preparations.
The new study will measure existing traffic volumes and provide volume-to-capacity analysis for key roadways and intersections in the vicinity of the current Scudder Falls (I- 95) Bridge. The data-collection effort also will examine five interchanges along I-95: Newtown-Yardley Road/Route 332 (exit 49) and Taylorsville Road (exit 51), both in Lower Makefield, PA.; Route 1 (exits 46A and 46B) in Middletown Township, PA; and Bear Tavern Road/County Route 579 (exit 2) and Route 29/Route 175 (exit 1), both in Ewing, N.J.
Pennoni Associates, Inc. of Philadelphia will conduct the study under a contract awarded at the Commission’s July 27 meeting for the not-to-exceed amount of $248,468.49. Work is expected to begin in September and take approximately nine months to complete.
The study’s findings will serve as the baseline tool for determining traffic diversion impacts after all-electronic tolling is implemented on the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge. A separate follow-up study will be conducted two years after toll collections begin on the replacement bridge. The post-tolling study will be procured at later date, conceivable in 2022.
Comparative analyses of the pre-construction and post-tolling studies will then enable the Commission to determine if traffic diversions from the tolled replacement bridge are causing any issues on local state roads, intersections, and nearby interchanges in the two states. This would enable engineers to determine if any locations warrant potential attention and mitigation.
The before-and-after study effort is a required stipulation in an Inter-agency Agreement the Commission struck with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Departments of Transportation as part of the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project’s environmental documentation phase in April 2012.
The Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project involves a heavily commuted 4.4-mile portion of the I-95 corridor extending from the Route 332/Yardley-Newtown Road exit in Bucks County, PA. and the Bear Tavern Road/Route 579 exit in Mercer County, N.J. The congestion-prone highway segment is a choke point for job-commuter traffic between Bucks County, PA and Central Jersey.
The nearly 55-year-old bridge and nearby interchanges are classified as functionally obsolete. To address recurring traffic safety and capacity problems at the bridge, its adjoining interchanges and I-95 approaches, the Commission is pursuing a comprehensive project for the highway segment. Project elements include:
- Replace the existing four-lane Scudder Falls Bridge with a twin-span structure carrying six lanes of through traffic (three in each direction), and three auxiliary lanes (two northbound, one southbound) for traffic merging on and off the bridge.
- Overhaul the accident-prone Route 29/175 interchange on the New Jersey side.
- Reconfigure the Taylorsville Road interchange in Lower Makefield, PA. to improve the safety and efficiency of the interchange.
- Make drainage upgrades and other improvements along the approach highway between the Route 29/175 interchange and Bear Tavern Road in New Jersey.
- Inside widening of the Pennsylvania I-95 approach between the Route 332 exit and the bridge by adding an additional lane and full shoulders in each direction.
- Provide a bicycle/pedestrian walkway alongside the main river bridge connecting the recreational canal paths on both sides of the river.
- Construct full inside and outside shoulders on both replacement bridge spans, a current highway standard requirement. (The bridge’s inside shoulders will be sized to allow for future bus rapid transit service.)
- Constructing an all-electronic toll (AET) collection system in the southbound direction consisting of high-speed E-ZPass tag readers and video cameras for license-plate billing.
- Installing noise-abatement walls along the approach roadways leading to and from the bridge.
Full construction activities are expected to get underway in early 2017. The project is expected to take three to four years to complete. More precise construction start and end dates will be established toward the end of the final design.
About the Commission
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission was formed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey in 1934. It operates seven toll bridges and 13 toll-supported bridges, two of which are pedestrian-only spans. The Commission is a self-supporting public-service agency that receives neither federal nor state tax dollars to finance its projects or operations. Funding for the operations, maintenance and upkeep of its bridges and related transportation facilities is solely derived from revenues collected at its toll bridges. The Commission’s jurisdiction extends along the Delaware River from the Philadelphia-Bucks County line north to the New Jersey/New York border. The bridges carried more than 138.2 million cars and commercial vehicles in 2014. For more information about the Commission and its various initiatives to deliver safer and more convenient bridge travel for its customers, please see: www.drjtbc.org.