NEW HOPE, PA – The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) today unveiled a proposed Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge (I-95) toll schedule projected to take effect in 2019, when the first span of the new bridge is expected to open.

If approved in late September by the Commission’s board of directors after a slate of public hearings, tolls 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. Tolls will be charged in the southbound direction via an all-electronic toll (AET) collection system of E-ZPass tag readers and high-resolution cameras.

“The Commission directed staff to tamp down the toll rates for this new bridge as much as possible,” said Joseph J. Resta, the Commission’s executive director. “The $1.25 base E-ZPass toll and 75-cent E-ZPass commuter-discount toll are in keeping with this goal, especially given the scope and complexity of the upcoming bridge replacement project.”

The Commission also announced 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.

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 next-generation collections system for manual and electronic toll transactions at the Commission’s seven current toll bridges. (See the “Changes to Existing Toll Structure” section of this release for more details.)

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 Public Notice are posted on the Commission’s website,www.drjtbc.org. The proposed toll schedule for the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge may be accessed directly atwww.drjtbc.org/scuddertolls. The proposed adjustments for recreational vehicles with cars or trailers in tow and for two-axle vehicles less than eight-feet high with more than four wheels may be accessed atwww.drjtbc.org/2016adjustments.

The Commission’s 2013 Toll Adjustment Public Hearing and Comment Policy provides for six public hearings, two in each of the Commission’s three geographic operating districts (one in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey). The Commission will also host open houses regarding the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project immediately before the two toll hearings in closest proximity to that facility. Here is the full list of dates, locations, and event times:

– July 19, 2016, West Trenton Volunteer Fire House, 40 Upper Ferry Rd., West Trenton, NJ. Informational project open house 4:30 p.m.; toll hearing 6 p.m.

– July 21, 2016, William Penn Middle School, 1524 Derbyshire Rd., Yardley, PA. Informational project open house 4:30 p.m.; toll hearing 6 p.m.

– Aug. 2, 2016, Holiday Inn Express, 90 Kunkle Dr., Easton, PA. Toll hearing 6 p.m.

– Aug. 4, 2016, Early Childhood Learning Center, 459 Center St., Phillipsburg, NJ. Toll hearing 6 p.m.

– Aug. 9, 2016, High Point Golf Club, 342 Shore Dr., Montague, NJ. Toll hearing 6 p.m.

– Aug. 11, 2016 East Stroudsburg University Innovation Center, 562 Independence Rd., East Stroudsburg, PA. Toll hearing 6 p.m.

Under Commission policy, the public also may provide comment on the proposed toll changes by any of the following, additional methods:

– Email – send to communityaffairs@drjtbc.org

– Commission website – go to the “contact us” portal at www.drjtbc.org (direct URL is www.drjtbc.org/comment.

– US Mail – address to Director of Community Affairs Jodee Inscho, DRJTBC Executive Offices, 2492 River Rd., New Hope, PA. 18938.

Individuals seeking to provide comment should do so no later than August 29, 2016.

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.

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.

As is the case at the Commission’s seven existing toll bridge, 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.).

Background on Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project

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.

The existing bridge was designed and constructed in the late 1950s and was not intended to carry today’s traffic volumes. The bridge’s opening did not occur until June 1961 due to a delay in the construction of approach roadways. The bridge carried 1,583,595 vehicles during its first full year of service in 1962; in 2015, it carried 21,594,797 vehicles, or a daily average of 59,200 crossings – the second highest volume among the Commission’s 18 vehicular bridges.

Its structural design is of the same non-redundant, pin-and-hanger-connected two-girder type as the I-95/Mianus River Bridge that collapsed in Connecticut in 1983. The Commission took steps in the early 1990s to prevent a Mianus-type collapse, but the redundancy measures did not – and could not – add life to the bridge’s deck or address its many operational and design deficiencies.

Due to the inadequate number of lanes on the bridge, the absence of shoulders on the structure and poor roadway geometry at the bridge’s adjoining interchanges, even minor accidents and emergencies at the bridge and its interchanges have been known to cause extended periods of regional gridlock. For these reasons, the nearly 55-year-old bridge and nearby ramps 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 has pursued a comprehensive project for the highway segment since entering into a Memorandum of Agreement with the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation in January 2003. The Commission unanimously approved a measure to make the replacement bridge a tolled structure in December 2009. This has been affirmed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on three subsequent occasions. A nearly 10-year environmental documentation process ended with the issuance of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from the FHWA in June 2012.

“This project involves a lot more than a new bridge,” said Resta. “It’s a comprehensive undertaking. A project of this size and duration could not be attempted without some measure of tolling to cover the substantial costs of planning, design and construction.”

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.)

– Install an all-electronic toll (AET) gantry and related infrastructure in the southbound direction consisting of highway-speed E-ZPass tag readers and high-speed video cameras for license-plate billing.

-Construct noise-abatement walls along warranted sections of the approach roadways leading to and from the bridge.

The project is currently reaching the end point of the final design process. The construction contract is expected to go out to bid in the fall. Construction is currently projected to begin in the first half of 2017 and take three to four years to complete. More precise start and end dates will be established after a construction contract is awarded.

The Commission plans to secure financing to carry out the project after action takes place on the proposed toll schedule in the fall. In an effort to hold down the toll rates at the replacement bridge, the Commission plans to use a portion of its cash reserves to help pay for the project.

Proposed Changes to Existing Toll Structure

The proposed adjustments to the Commission’s existing toll structure would apply to the agency’s seven existing toll bridges: Trenton-Morrisville (Route 1), New Hope-Lambertville (Route 202), I-78, Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22), Portland-Columbia, Delaware Water Gap (I-80), and Milford-Montague (Route 206).

The proposed changes would affect only the following toll transactions:

1. Cash and E-ZPass toll rates for two-axle vehicles below eight feet high that have more than four wheels (“dualies”); and

2. Cash transactions involving a recreational vehicle (RV) with a trailer or vehicle in tow. (Note: the cash and E-ZPass rates for an RV without a trailer or vehicle in tow remain unchanged).

Under the proposal, two-axle vehicles below eight-feet high that have more than four wheels will now be classified as a light truck. This adjustment in vehicle classification and accompanying toll rate is being proposed because the overwhelming majority of affected vehicles weigh 7,000 pounds or more. This proposed change also conforms to prevailing tolling industry classification and rating practices, including the PA and NJ turnpikes, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), the Delaware River & Bay Authority (DRBA), and the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA), among others.

Vehicle Type Affected

Classification Change

Per-Axle Rate

Toll

Two-axle vehicles
under eight feet in height
with more than four wheels

Class 2 (Light Truck)

$3.25

$6.50

The Commission’s new definition of a Class 2 vehicle (Light Truck) for tolling purposes would be: “A two-axle vehicle with more than four wheels and/or eight-feet or above in height.”

The proposed tolling change for RVs with a trailer or vehicle in tow is a clarification of what the cash rate should be for this type of toll transaction. The Commission’s toll structure is based primarily on rolling axles and vehicle size. This has resulted in disparate rates between cash and E-ZPass transactions for instances when an RV has either a trailer or vehicle in tow.

The toll rate schedule and accompanying notation on the next page is to be applied regardless of whether payment is made electronically through E-ZPass or manually in cash through a toll attendant at one of the Commission seven exiting toll bridges.

Example

Classification

Per-Axle Rate

Toll

Two-Axle RV with
single rolling axle trailer
or vehicle in tow
with one axle down

Class 3 (3 rolling axles)

$4.00

$12

Two-Axle RV with
dual rolling axle trailer
or vehicle in tow
with two axles down

Class 4 (4 rolling axles)

$4.00

$16

Three-Axle RV with
single rolling axle trailer
or vehicle in tow
with one axle down

Class 4 (4 rolling axles)

$4.00

$16

Three-Axle RV with
dual rolling axle trailer
or vehicle in tow
with two axles down

Class 5 (5 rolling axles)

$4.00

$20

Note: In any subsequent larger configurations of RVs and trailers/vehicles in tow, a toll rate of $4 per axle is to be charged.

As is the case with two-axle trucks below eight-feet high with more than four wheels, this transaction clarification conforms with prevailing tolling industry practices and brings the Commission’s vehicle classifications for tolling purposes in step with the region’s other toll systems – the PA and NJ Turnpikes, DRPA, and SJTA, among others.

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 144.5 million cars and trucks in 2016. 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.

Media Contact

Joe Donnelly
Phone: (215) 862-7693

Pete Peterson
Phone: (215) 990-8928

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