The project area extends 4.4 miles along I-95 between the PA Route 332 (Newtown-Yardley Road) Interchange (exit 49) in Pennsylvania and the Bear Tavern Road (County Route 579) Interchange (Exit 2) in New Jersey.
Project Construction Update
Stage 1 construction activities were fully underway throughout the 4.4-mile project area for the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project during the summer of 2017. Earlier in the year, construction crews completed the installation of noise walls at warranted locations in Lower Makefield, PA. and carried out a string of project preparations including roadway signage, early excavation and establishment of equipment storage areas and construction sites.
The project’s main construction contract is expected to proceed over a 4-1/2-year period ending in summer-fall 2021. Work was progressing at the following locations within the project area as of August 2017:
Construction activities related to the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project have expanded to multiple work sites within the 4.4 project area between two states. The preponderance of work takes place during daytime hours, but some activities must be conducted during nighttime hours due to traffic/safety considerations. Current work locations and activities are as follows:
The project will be carried out in stages. Stage 1 will center on the construction of the first span of the new bridge immediately upstream of the current Scudder Falls Bridge. This upstream span initially will carry two lanes of traffic in each direction, beginning in early 2019.
The current bridge will then be demolished to allow for construction of a second, downstream span immediately south of the upstream span. When both spans are completed, the upstream span will carry only southbound traffic and the downstream span will carry only northbound traffic.
The current bridge will remain open to traffic the first stage of construction (2017 to early 2019). Two travel lanes will be maintained in the peak direction during high-volume commuter traffic periods (northbound in the mornings and southbound in the evenings). Motorists, however, may encounter slight delays and periodic detours and lane shifts at the bridge’s flanking interchanges (Exit 1/Route 29 in New Jersey and Exit 51/Taylorsville Road in Pennsylvania).
Upon completion of the replacement bridge’s upstream span, toll collection will begin in the southbound direction only. An all-electronic toll (AET) collection system consisting of E-ZPass transponder readers and high-speed cameras (Toll-by-Plate) affixed to an overhead gantry will collect tolls at highway speeds from motorists traveling from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. The AET collection system is expected to go online by mid-2019.
Preparations for the project were initiated in early 2003 and culminated with the June 14, 2012 issuance of a pivotal Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The FHWA’s determination validated the project’s extensive environmental documentation (Environmental Assessment and Addendum to the Environmental Assessment) compiled by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission and its project management team.
With the FHWA’s action in 2012, project preparations shifted to updating of project right-of-way plans, identification and execution of priority work items in anticipation of design and construction, and delivery of retrieved unearthed archaeological materials to state museums in Harrisburg and Trenton.
The Commission formally moved the project into the final design phase in early 2015. This action followed the completion of a system-wide investment-grade (Level III) traffic and revenue study in 2014 and a reconfirmation that the project would be executed as a conventional design-bid-build project.
The multi-element project is projected to cost $439 million, according to estimates compiled during the latter stages of the final design process in 2016. (This figure represents the all-in cost and includes construction, concept plans, final design, environmental documentation and all other previous and projected expenditures.)
The project involves much more than a replacement of the current functionally obsolete four-lane Scudder Falls Bridge. The project also will include safety upgrades to the two highway interchanges at both ends of the bridge, widening of I-95 to the inside from the bridge to Route 322 in Pennsylvania, and construction of shoulders on the bridge crossing to handle breakdowns and emergencies. The two inside shoulder lanes would have the capacity to serve proposed bus/rapid transit routes. The Commission also has announced that it will install a bike/pedestrian walkway on the bridge’s upstream side to connect canal paths on both sides of the river and install noise walls where warranted.
The project’s main elements are as follows:
In December 2009, the Commission voted to establish cashless tolling for the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge. The action was taken due to the absence of federal and state transportation support for the project.
Tolling at the new bridge will be conducted through an “all-electronic tolling” (AET) system. A conventional barrier toll plaza will not be built. AET allows motorists to travel at prevailing speeds without having to stop to pay the toll. Non-E-ZPass-equipped vehicles passing through the cashless toll system will be subject to video capture by the camera equipment mounted on an overhead gantry; the DRJTBC will send a bill to the vehicle’s registered owner to collect the Toll-by-Plate toll. Tolls for E-ZPass customers will be lower than the rates for Toll-by-Plate customers, which will have higher administrative costs. (To see the approved toll schedule for the new bridge, please the tolling page in the documents section of the Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project’s website — www.scudderfallsbridge.com. The page may be directly accessed here. It is scheduled take effect when the first span of the new bridge opens to traffic in early 2019.)
Tolling will be in the southbound direction only (entering Pennsylvania). This one-direction toll collection is consistent with all other DRJTBC toll bridges where tolls are charged for traffic crossing from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.
Tolling at the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge ensures that its users shoulder the cost burden of the project’s significant transportation-infrastructure and safety improvements.