NEW HOPE, PA – The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission today announced preliminary information on a temporary courtesy shuttle service the agency is planning to provide when the New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge’s walkway is closed for replacement and associated painting work during portions of the first four months of 2024.
The Commission has completed a procurement process for an outside vendor that will provide the shuttle service at no cost to its users. The service is intended solely for walkway patrons affected by the facility’s closure during its hours of heaviest use.
The shuttle service will have single stops in New Hope and Lambertville; both stops are proximate to the bridge. The shuttle will travel between the two communities via the New Hope-Lambertville (Route 202) Toll Bridge. The ride time between the designated pickup/discharge points is estimated at 15 minutes.
The current plan for the service is expected to be as follows:
- New Hope loading/unloading stop: on the northbound side of North Main Street near the building that houses the PNC Bank and Starbucks Coffee.
- Lambertville loading/unloading stop: the Pennsylvania-bound side of Bridge Street in the general area of the former Black River and Western Railroad crossing.
- Operating hours Sundays to Thursdays: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. – two shuttles in service with one starting in New Hope at 7 a.m. and the other starting at 7 a.m. in Lambertville.
- Operating hours Fridays and Saturdays: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. – two shuttles in service with one starting in New Hope at 7 a.m. and the other starting at 7 a.m. in Lambertville; 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. (next day) – one shuttle in service to handle hospitality-sector patrons in the two municipalities.
- Vehicles: Two-axle minibuses with maximum seating capacities for 20 passengers and racks for two bicycles. Each minibus also is capable of loading and transporting disabled people in wheelchairs. Each vehicle can be configured to carry up to four wheelchairs, with a corresponding reduction of four passenger seats for each wheelchair. Four wheelchairs – an unlikely occurrence — would leave eight standard passenger seats available for a trip between the two towns.)
- Operations: Shuttles are to cycle back and forth between the towns, loading and unloading passengers at the respective stop in each town. Aside from the start and end times, there is not a set arrival/departure schedule; service would be first-come first-served at a shuttle stop.
- Route: Each minibus exceeds the 4-ton gross vehicle weight restriction on the New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge, the free crossing linking the riverfront towns’ commercial centers. For this reason, the shuttle must travel across the toll bridge immediately north of New Hope and Lambertville.
- Signage: The two designated shuttle stops will be marked with signs in English and Spanish. Bi-lingual signs or banners also will be displayed at the bridge’s walkway approaches, directing the public to that side’s respective shuttle pickup point.
- Public awareness: The Commission plans to distribute flyers and handout cards, and place posters at select locations. These materials will be in English and Spanish. Some advertising also will be undertaken. Other periodic communications, like this press release, will be periodically issued when warranted.
- Inclement weather: The shuttle will not operate if a governor declares a state of emergency affecting either New Hope or Lambertville.
- Adjustments: The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, at its sole discretion, may alter the extent of service as warranted based on actual usage trends.
- Duration of service: Shuttle operation will begin when the walkway is shut down. Service will end when the walkway reopens. Specific start and end dates for the service can’t be determined at this time. The Commission has yet to award a construction contract. Once a contract is awarded, the project contractor will need time to map out its work plan and set a firm date for the walkway shutdown. The end date for the service won’t be determined until the walkway-replacement and painting work on the bridge’s downstream side nears completion in the spring.
The Commission should be able to provide the shuttle service start date and some additional related information sometime in December.
As is the case with the rehabilitation project itself, a share of the toll revenues the Commission collects at its eight toll bridges will pay for the shuttle service. This is the only bridge that receives a shuttle service when its walkway is closed for replacement or a rehabilitation.
The uninterrupted bridge walkway closure is needed because its aging and increasingly slip-prone fiberglass surface panels are at the end of their service life. Some panels have previously required interim replacement or repair. The panels will be replaced with new quieter, slip-resistant foam-core fiber-reinforced-polymer (FRP) molded panels.
As part of the walkway-panel removal process, the walkway’s railing also will be removed and then shipped off-site for re-anodization. The walkway’s underlying galvanized-steel cantilevered supports, which are showing early signs of rusting, also will be painted during the walkway closure period.
All this work is timed to take place while the downstream side of the bridge undergoes various stages of containment so work crews can execute a complete taken-down-to-bare-metal and repainting. Paint enclosures will be required for this work and the containment will include the cantilevered walkway supports. This and the walkway railing’s removal will make periodic reopening impractical, if not impossible.
The walkway work and downstream painting is scheduled to take place as the project’s first major construction stage: https://www.drjtbc.org/wp-content/uploads/11R_Staging_1.pdf. This work is purposefully staged to take place during the earliest months of the new year when cold temperatures, elevated wind speeds, and potential storms annually reduce walkway use significantly. The walkway is expected to reopen in time for the Shad Fest in Lambertville, the city’s major street fair – https://www.drjtbc.org/wp-content/uploads/12R-Staging_2.pdf. The walkway annually sees its highest usage during that annual event.
The bridge walkway work is just one facet of the 9-1/2-month-long bridge rehabilitation project. Other significant project tasks include:
- Cleaning and repainting of the bridge’s steel-truss superstructure;
- Repair or replacement of various deteriorated or compromised steel components;
- Upgrade roadway and walkway lighting to an energy-efficient LED system;
- Install a programmable color-changing LED lighting system to highlight the bridge’s Pratt-truss architectural profile;
- Replace electrical wiring and connections; and
- Update the bridge’s security camera system and install up to two additional walkway cameras.
Vehicular Travel Impacts
Contrary to erroneous published reports, the bridge is not expected to be completely closed during the project. The bridge will remain open to westbound (Pennsylvania-bound) traffic for the project’s duration, which is expected to reach substantial completion in mid-September. The uninterrupted flow of westbound (Pennsylvania-bound) traffic is intended to prevent the bridge’s motorists from being forced to use the nearby toll bridge, where tolls are collected in the westbound direction only.
Eastbound traffic at the free bridge will be detoured to the free direction at the nearby toll bridge for a long portion of the project – https://www.drjtbc.org/wp-content/uploads/14R_NJ-Bound_Detour_Plan.pdf. Detour signage will begin at two locations: the intersection of Route 202 north and West Bridge Street (PA Route 179) immediately west of New Hope in Solebury Township, PA., and at the intersection of Bridge and Main streets in New Hope.
From early January to late May, the eastbound traffic detour will be uninterrupted. By Memorial Day weekend, construction activities are expected to advance to a point where the bridge can be reopened to two-way traffic on a weekends-only basis for the remainder of the project – https://www.drjtbc.org/wp-content/uploads/13R-Staging_3.pdf. All traffic impacts are expected to end in September. The project, including final punch list work, is anticipated to reach full completion in October.
A project-specific webpage is available with additional information on the Commission’s website at: http://www.drjtbc.org/project/newhopelambertville