LOWER MAKEFIELD, PA – The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) will hold its second of six public hearings on the proposed toll schedule for the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge on Thursday evening in Lower Makefield, PA.
If approved in late September by the Commission’s board of directors after a slate of public hearings, tolls at the new bridge would be $1.25 for passenger vehicles with E-ZPass; $2.60 for Toll-by-Plate passenger vehicles without E-ZPass; and 75 cents for commuters who make at least 16 tolled trips per month using a Commission-affiliated E-ZPass tag. The proposed rate schedule, which also includes tolls on trucks and other non-passenger vehicles, is projected to take effect when the first span of the new bridge opens to traffic sometime in 2019. The tolls will be charged in the southbound direction only via an all-electronic toll (AET) collection system of E-ZPass tag readers and high-resolution cameras.
The toll hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at the William Penn Middle School, 1524 Derbyshire Road, Yardley, PA. (The school actually is located in Lower Makefield.) An informational open house on the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project, the proposed toll schedule, and the planned AET collection system will immediately precede the hearing, beginning at 4:30 p.m. and ending promptly at 6 p.m.
At the toll hearing, the Commission also will take testimony on two narrowly defined changes in its current toll structure for the agency’s seven existing toll bridges. One of these adjustments would affect E-ZPass and cash tolls paid by drivers of two-axle vehicles that are less than eight feet high with more than four wheels; the preponderance of these vehicles would be pickup trucks with dual-wheel rear axles, often referred to as “dualies.” The other proposed change clarifies what the cash toll rate should be for recreational vehicles with a trailer or vehicle in tow. All other rates and vehicle classifications in the Commission’s current toll schedule (effective 11 p.m. June 30, 2011) are unaffected by the proposed toll adjustments.
The two changes in the current toll structure are expected to take effect by February 2017, after the Commission completes the installation, testing, calibration and activation of a nextgeneration collections system for manual and electronic toll transactions at the Commission’s seven current toll bridges.
In accordance with the Commission’s 2013 Toll Adjustment Public Hearing and Comment Policy (R:2327-07-13 FIN-0207-13), the proposed toll adjustments and the Public Notice for the public comment process are posted on the Commission’s website, www.drjtbc.org.
The proposed adjustments for recreational vehicles with cars or trailers in tow and for twoaxle vehicles less than eight-feet high with more than four wheels may be accessed at www.drjtbc.org/2016adjustments.
The open house portion of Thursday’s outreach event will enable members of the public to reacquaint themselves with the project by examining display boards, speaking with Commission and project representatives, and viewing continuously running videos about AET and the bridge project. The displays will include updated bridge design renderings, a depiction of the redesigned I-95/Route 29 interchange, and the latest project schedule information.
The ensuing toll hearing will be moderated by a hearing officer and will include a brief presentation about the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge toll schedule and the two proposed adjustments to the current toll schedule for the Commission’s seven existing toll bridges. Public testimony will be restricted to the proposed toll changes and all comments will be recorded by a court stenographer. Speakers will be limited to five minutes each. Individuals also may provide written testimony or fill out comment cards that will be available at the open house and the hearing. The public may continue to submit written comments until August 29.
Written comments may be provided by any of the following methods:
- Email – send to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Commission website – go to the “contact us” portal at drjtbc.org (direct URL is www.drjtbc.org/comment. o US Mail – address to Department of Community Affairs, DRJTBC Executive Offices, 2492 River Rd., New Hope, PA. 18938.
The remaining four hearing dates on the toll proposals are:
- 2, 2016, Holiday Inn Express, 90 Kunkle Dr., Easton, PA. Toll hearing 6 p.m. o Aug. 4, 2016, Early Childhood Learning Center, 459 Center St., Phillipsburg, NJ. Toll hearing 6 p.m.
- 9, 2016, High Point Golf Club, 342 Shore Dr., Montague, NJ. Toll hearing 6 p.m. o Aug. 11, 2016 East Stroudsburg University Innovation Center, 562 Independence Rd., East Stroudsburg, PA. Toll hearing 6 p.m.
Proposed Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge Toll Schedule
The proposed base toll for an E-ZPass-equipped passenger vehicle crossing the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge would be $1.25. Frequent commuters who make 16 tolled crossings in a respective month across Commission toll bridges would be provided an automatic 40-percent discount to 75 cents per tolled trip, provided the transactions are recorded on the same DRJTBC-affiliated E-ZPass tag. (A DRJTBC-affiliated E-ZPass is any tag issued by the New Jersey E-ZPass Group, which provides customer service and violations processing for the
DRJTBC, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority [NJTA], the Delaware River Port Authority [DRPA], the Delaware River & Bay Authority [DRBA], the South Jersey Transportation Authority [SJTA] and the Burlington County Bridge Commission [BCBC]).
Passenger vehicles without E-ZPass will have images of their license plates captured by one of the high-speed cameras mounted to the AET tolling gantry that is planned to be constructed on the Pennsylvania side of the replacement bridge. The registered owner of the vehicle would receive an invoice for all trips made through the Scudder Falls tolling point in a given billing period. The passenger vehicle Toll-by-Plate rate would be $2.60 per trip. The higher toll is applied to cover the additional costs of processing non-E-ZPass transactions.
Two different per-axle base rates are proposed for trucks and other non-passenger vehicles. The base E-ZPass rate for light trucks – two-axle vehicles eight feet or above in height and/or with more than four wheels – would be $3.50 per axle. For heavy trucks – vehicles with three or more axles – the base E-ZPass rate would be $4.25. As is the case at the Commission’s seven existing toll bridges, a 10-percent discount would be applied for trucks paying tolls with a commercial E-ZPass tag during off-peak hours (9:01 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.).
The Toll-by-Plate toll for two-axle trucks would be $8.35. The Toll-by-Plate rate for heavy trucks would be $4.75 per axle.
Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project Background
The Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project involves a heavily commuted 4.4-mile portion of I-95 extending from the Route 332/Yardley-Newtown Road exit in Bucks County, PA and the Bear Tavern Road/Route 579 exit in Mercer County, NJ. The congestion-prone highway segment is a choke point for job-commuter traffic between Bucks County and Central Jersey. The segment, especially in the area of the bridge and its flanking interchanges, has a high accident rate; more than 100 accidents a year and some have been fatal.