On February 14, 1831, an act was passed by the New Jersey Legislature and concurred by the Pennsylvania Legislature, creating the Taylorsville Delaware Bridge Company. By the provisions of this act, the bridge was to be located at Taylor’s Ferry. The first bridge was built of timber and remained in service until it was swept away by the flood of January 8, 1841. A replacement bridge was constructed shortly thereafter and it remained in service until the superstructure was carried away by the flood of October 10, 1903.
The bridge was operated as a privately owned toll bridge for approximately 90 years by the Taylorsville Delaware Bridge Company and, later, the Washington Crossing Delaware Bridge Company. It was purchased jointly by Pennsylvania and New Jersey and freed of tolls on April 25, 1922. The purchase was facilitated by the former Joint Commission for Elimination of Toll Bridges, the predecessor agency to the current-day Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC). The states conveyed ownership of the bridge to the DRJTBC on July 1, 1987. The Bridge Commission operates and maintains the bridge using a share of the proceeds collected at the agency’s eight toll bridges.
The superstructure of the existing bridge, which connects County Route 546 in Hopewell Township, New Jersey with PA Route 532 in Upper Makefield Township, Pennsylvania, was built in 1904 and 1905. Its ceremonial opening was May 6, 1905.
The bridge is a six-span double Warren truss structure, with a total length of 877 feet. The substructures, composed of rubble stone-faced masonry, are from the original construction in the 1830s. The open steel grid deck provides a clear roadway width of 15 feet between steel channel rub-rails. The downriver side of the truss supports a cantilevered, wood planked pedestrian walkway — which was added to the bridge in 1926.
The flood of August 19, 1955 did considerable damage to the bridge. Floating debris in the form of whole trees, steel barrels and even houses, smashed against the bridge resulting in damage to all 6 spans. More than half of all the bottom chords of the bridge were bent, torn and twisted beyond ever being straightened. These members were replaced with new fabricated steel members and the bridge was reopened to traffic on November 17, 1955.
The bridge underwent an extensive structural rehabilitation in the fall of 1994. Many truss members were replaced with new fabricated galvanized steel. Floor system members and the open steel grid deck were replaced in the first three bays of each end span. All remaining structural steel was blast cleaned, metallized and painted. A new wooden sidewalk was installed and renovations were made at both approaches to the bridge.
The bridge is currently restricted to a 15-mile per hour speed limit, a 3-ton weight limit, and a 10-foot vertical clearance. It is the only Commission bridge outfitted with stop lights to control passage of oversized vehicles. This also is the Commission’s narrowest vehicular bridge. The roadway has a clear width of 15-feet between wheel guards. The resulting 7.5-foot lane width is 4-1/2 feet less than the standard 12-foot-wide interstate highway lane.
This bridge, which was constructed before mass production of automobiles, is now classified as “functionally obsolete.”