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 2012, the program has financed 106 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 15 of its 20 Delaware River Bridges. This list is expected to grow in 2013, when the Commission will conduct a nearly three-month rehabilitation of its 65-year-old Lumberville-Raven Rock Toll-Supported Pedestrian Bridge and kick off a nearly two-year 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.)
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 roughly $65 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 79 years old in 2013.
Another factor is traffic volumes. In 1962, slightly more than 48 million vehicles crossed the Commission's bridges. Fifty years later - in 2012 - more than 137 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.
The Commission's Capital Improvement Program consists of a four-prong strategy:
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 2013 capital plan stands to continue this trend, forecasting slightly more than $56 million worth of transportation infrastructure and operational improvements for the year.
It is the third consecutive year in which the capital plan has been reduced from the prior year.