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DRJTBC - Project Case Study

Bridges, roadways and other kinds of transportation infrastructure constantly require maintenance and improvements to enhance their structural integrity, safety and operational performance.

In 2001, the Commission launched a comprehensive capital improvement program to meet these very objectives. Now totaling more than $1 billion, the Commission's long-term capital initiative aims to better preserve, enhance, protect and manage its network of transportation facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Typical improvements made under the Commission's capital program include new bridge paint systems for environmental safety; lane widening, ramp and pavement improvements to reduce congestion; repairs to flooring, substructures, and superstructures to extend the useful life of the bridges; installation of an electronic surveillance system to improve security; and toll plaza improvements.

The Commission has made significant progress on its capital improvement program to date. Through 2013, the program has financed over 100 projects -- large and small -- amounting to more than $450 million worth of regional transportation infrastructure and service improvements. This work represents a delivery on a Commission promise to invest the proceeds of upward toll adjustments in rehabilitations, repairs, and upgrades of its bridge/transportation services system.

The Commission now has completed significant rehabilitation or improvement projects at 16 of its 20 Delaware River Bridges. This list is expected to grow in 2014 and 2015 as the agency completes a comprehensive rehabilitation of the 75-year-old Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge.

(For the latest information on the agency's current capital program initiatives, please visit the Commission Projects section of this website and click on the specific project.)

Among the project planning procurements expected to move forward in 2014 are:

o Trenton-Morrisville (Route 1) and Lower Trenton bridges' approaches improvements -- an RFP for construction management and inspection services later in the year;

o Portland-Columbia Toll Bridge's approach roadways improvements -- An RFP for final design work to be issued perhaps as early as February;

o I-78 Toll Bridge Maintenance Garage Expansion and Site Improvements -- An RFP for Final Design later in the year;

o Riverton-Belvidere Toll-Supported Bridge Critical Member Strengthening -- An RFP for analysis, evaluation, and design in the 2nd quarter;

o Scudder Falls Bridge Interim Deck Repairs -- An RFP for final design in the 3rd quarter.  (No, this is not the big project that has been in planning for much of the past decade.  This is stopgap project intended to keep the current bridge in safe traveling condition while the Commission takes the final steps toward designing and procuring the major project later in this decade.) 

The capital program was launched to address a long list of deferred repairs and operational deficiencies that accumulated during the 1990s when little more than routine maintenance work was performed on the Commission's bridges and related facilities. It was later determined that the Commission should have been investing more than $15 million per year on maintenance and improvements to its bridges in 1990s. Instead, the Commission spent only about $3 million per year on such efforts during the decade. This "fix-it-when-broken" approach left a bridge system in substantial need of rehabilitation and enhancements to improve safety, efficiency and performance.

In contrast to its "fix what is broken" approach of the past, the Commission is investing mroe than $40 million per year in its system under its "fix it right" approach -- a change that is necessary to enable the Commission to meet its 21st Century transportation and security needs.

There is another reason behind the agency's capital improvement effort: aging infrastructure. The Commission's bridge network includes some of the nation's oldest river-crossing facilities. For example, the portions of the piers supporting the Lower Trenton ("Trenton Makes") Toll-Supported Bridge between Trenton, N.J. and Morrisville, Pa. date back more than two centuries. Six of the agency's bridge superstructures are older than 100 years old. The average age of the Commission's 20 bridges will turn 80 years old in 2014.

Another factor is traffic volumes. In 1962, slightly more than 48 million vehicles crossed the Commission's bridges. More than 50 years later - in 2013 - more than 138.5 million vehicles used the agency's bridges. These bridge traffic volumes are expected to rise in the coming decades due to population and employment-growth trends in the 21st Century.

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QUICK FACTS

The Commission's Capital Improvement Program consists of a four-prong strategy:

  • System Preservation -- for bridge rehabilitation and modernization,
  • System Protection -- to safeguard bridges, facilities, and our customers.
  • System Management -- for operational and service enhancement to optimize capacity and improve traffic flow.
  • System Enhancement -- for the expansion and construction of new transportation facilities.

 The Capital Improvement Program attained its 10-year anniversary in 2011.

With many of the Commission's critical needs addressed during the program's first 10 years, capital spending has ebbed slightly in recent years.

The 2014 capital plan stands to continue this trend, forecasting nearly $42 million of transportation infrastructure improvements and future project planning for the year.

It is the fourth consecutive year in which the capital plan has been reduced from the prior year.

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