The Commission is one of the nation’s oldest bi-state transportation agencies. Its jurisdiction includes the site of the nation’s first interstate bridge – the former Trenton Bridge, and a series of other crossings that were originally constructed in the 1800s as privately owned toll bridges. Traffic in the Commission’s first full year of operation in 1935 was slightly more than 20 million vehicles. In 2015, traffic reached a record 141.7 million vehicles. The following Timeline is developed based on a 75th anniversary account published in the Commission’s 2009 Annual Report.


Early Origin

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission is one of the nation’s oldest toll agencies. Its genesis is rooted in the advent of the automobile age during the first quarter of the last century. Its incorporation and history of operations reflect an ongoing responsiveness to a continuous trend of rising traffic rates, larger and faster vehicles, and growing volumes of interstate commerce in each ensuing decade.


Breaking Ground

The watershed event that gave rise for a reconstituted toll agency occurred in 1925, when the Northampton Street Bridge linking Easton, Pa. and Phillipsburg, N.J. required major repairs. In the course of making repairs, one half of the road deck had to be closed to traffic. This resulted in crippling traffic jams, economic losses in the two communities and numerous problems for law enforcement.

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The experience motivated community and business leaders to crusade for construction of a new bridge—the current Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge, originally named the Bushkill Street Bridge.

The predecessor commission subsequently received authorization from the two states to prepare plans, specifications, and cost estimates of the additional bridge. But when the costs of the proposed structure and approaches were determined to require multi-million-dollar subsidies from the two states, it was made clear to the predecessor commission that the two states would not provide the funds necessary to build a “free” bridge; the new bridge would need to be financed through sales of Revenue Bonds.


Rapid Growth

The legislative process to convert the predecessor commission into a toll agency began in 1931, but it was not completed until late 1934. By this time, the region’s transportation needs were growing rapidly. Almost all car models were longer, wider, more powerful, and increasingly affordable. The price of a brand new 4-door Dodge sedan was $665. Innovations such as aerodynamic designs, one-piece curved windshields, and radio controls built into instrument panels all took root in 1934.