Update: This project reached substantial completion on Sept. 16, 2019, when staff occupied the structure.
The Commission constructed this new office building in Lower Makefield, PA. to replace the agency’s outdated and dysfunctional administration building in Morrisville, PA. and allow for improved consolidation of the agency’s executive and administrative staffs at a single location.
The new 35,000-square-foot, two-story headquarters includes office spaces for the agency’s professional staff, meeting rooms, a lobby/reception area, work stations, break rooms, support spaces, and outdoor eating and gathering spaces.
The envisioned office building was constructed on a portion of a 10-acre parcel the agency purchased from Lower Makefield Township, PA. in 2016. The property is easily accessible via the I-295/Taylorsville Road interchange (exit 51) and is close to the Commission’s new Scudder Falls Toll Bridge, the first span of which was completed and opened to traffic late on July 9, 2019. (The office building project is a separate undertaking, not part of the much broader and longer-duration toll bridge project.)
The office building project began in late spring 2018 and reached substantial completion on Sept. 16, 2019.
The project has enabled the consolidation of administrative staff currently housed at several locations – primarily Morrisville and New Hope, PA. The Commission’s information technology resources also are now consolidated at the new building.
Another project task involved the repurposing of a nearby structure constructed in 1799 that the Commission purchased from private owners in preparation for the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project. This work will provide restrooms for recreationists who use the nearby Delaware Canal towpath.
Finally, the project included renovations to the existing park-and-ride lot near the Taylorsville Road/Woodside Road intersection in Lower Makefield and the construction of a bike-ped path between the park-and-ride lot and the “1799 building.”
The project’s specific work tasks were as follows:
1799 Building (former stone resident constructed in 1799)
The project’s construction contract was awarded to Bracy Construction, Inc. of Allentown, PA for a not-to-exceed amount of $21,357,000 on March 26, 2018.
For more than 65 years, most of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s professional staff were housed in a four-story, 24,000 square foot limestone office building in Morrisville, PA. This outdated art-deco-styled building dated from the Truman Administration-era and had reached the end of its useful life. The roof leaked. Heating and air conditioning was inefficient and prone to service disruptions. Working quarters were cramped with poor lighting and substandard ventilation. The list of deficiencies was substantial.
Beginning in 2015, the Commission began taking steps to find a new location for its executive and administrative personnel. This search resulted in the acquisition of a 10-acre parcel from the Township of Lower Makefield, PA. in October 2016. The property included some wetlands, wooded areas, and an under-utilized and deteriorated park-and-ride lot (3.4 acres) that the township would have needed to replace at substantial cost. As part of the property purchase, the Commission provided $250,000 to Lower Makefield’s tree bank for future tree plantings and the Commission committed to rehabilitating and right-sizing the park-and-ride lot. The Commission also immediately assumed responsibility for the operation, maintenance, snow plowing and trash removal of the lot in perpetuity.
Subsequent to the acquisition of the Lower Makefield Township parcel, the Commission purchased an adjoining privately owned residential property that includes a stone residence dating from 1799.
The plan was to make the new Lower Makefield location the central hub of the Commission’s administration and executive operations, allowing the Commission to eventually repurpose its Morrisville location.
Administration building – A two-story office building was built on an approximately three-acre buildable section of the 10-acre parcel. The facility includes energy-efficient elements such as natural daylighting, rooftop solar panels, sustainable materials and systems, and other life-cycle, cost-saving features. The design team included building features such as glass curtainwalls and a building structure incorporating truss-bridge structural elements.
Parking for the building consists of around 120 spaces, all separate from the resized/reconditioned park-and-ride lot. Tie-ins to utilities (electric, gas, water, sewer) for the building is from service lines along Taylorsville and Woodside roads. The facility includes fuel pumps for Commission administrative vehicles and a loading/service entrance. Driveway access to the building site is from Woodside Road. As per assurances given to Lower Makefield Township, NO MAINTENANCE FACILITIES OR FUNCTIONS WILL BE HOUSED AT THIS LOCATION.
Site-wide landscaping, including tree plantings, is being conducted in the aftermath of construction.
Park-and-ride lot – The prior lot had 170 vehicle spaces but average daily use was 40 to 45 spaces. The lot was severely deteriorated and needed reconstruction. The redesigned/right-sized lot now consist of slightly more than 100 spaces with designated space for bus pickups. The new lot is separated from the Commission’s office facility and is available for public commuter and recreational use, free of charge. The Commission is responsible for all maintenance and operation of the lot in perpetuity.
Connector path – A connector path was be installed to link the park-and-ride lot with the former residential building (1799 house) that will undergo adaptive reuse as an information/rest area for bicyclists, pedestrians and other recreationists. The connector path will be maintained at Commission expense. The location is in close proximity to where the Delaware Canal’s towpath will link with the ramp for the pedestrian/walkway that is being constructed on the upstream span of the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge’s first completed span (upstream side). The bridge’s bike-ped path, which is expected to open for use in the summer 2020, will link with the Delaware & Raritan Canal’s towpath on the New Jersey side.
1799 House – This former residence at 1167 Woodside Road was purchased by the Commission from private owners in late September 2016. According to property records, the stone structure at this location dates to 1799. The plan is to save the building and readapt it for public use in the canal park setting as part of the administrative building/park-and-ride project. A connector path has been installed to connect the house with the park-and-ride lot.