SCUDDER FALLS – The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) – a regional bistate transportation agency serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey – today opened a new multi-faceted Delaware River crossing point for pedestrians, bicyclists and sightseers.
The agency is calling the new facility the Scudder Falls Shared-Use Path. Its main element is a recently completed 1,587-foot-long walkway on the upstream span of the Scudder Falls (I-295) Toll Bridge – a heavily used commuter bridge between Ewing, N.J. and Lower Makefield, PA.
The facility provides a direct connection between the recreational towpaths along the Delaware & Raritan Canal in New Jersey and the Delaware Canal in Pennsylvania.
The new river link makes Scudder Falls the only river crossing in the Commission’s 20-bridge system that meets Federal Highway Authority criteria allowing bicyclists to pedal without dismounting. Fifteen of the Commission’s bridges currently provide some form of pedestrian access. However, for safety, liability, and logistical reasons, bicyclists must dismount and walk across these existing walkways.
The new Scudder Falls Shared-Use Path was constructed by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission under two separate toll-funded projects: the Scudder Falls Administration Building Project and the 4-1/2-year-long Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project, which is now nearing completion along the I-295 in Bucks County, PA. and Mercer County, N.J.
Aside from the 1,587-foot river bridge walkway, the new Scudder Falls Shared-Use Path has the following features:
- An access ramp and concrete path extension to the D&R Feeder Canal towpath on the New Jersey side.
- An access ramp to the Delaware Canal towpath on the Pennsylvania side.
- Four scenic overlooks on the bridge walkway and access ramps.
- A recently installed pedestrian bridge to facilitate safe crossings of pedestrians and bicyclists over the Delaware Canal.
- The 1799 House – a former stone residence that was adaptively re-used to serve as a trailhead comfort station in close proximity to the Delaware Canal towpath. A ramp provides access to this facility in compliance with the American Disabilities Act.
- Benches and a bicycle rack outside the 1799 House.
- An interpretive display consisting of one granite block and a bearing from the first Scudder Falls Bridge that was constructed in 1959 and removed from service in 2019.
- A 127-space park-n-ride lot – including handicapped-designated spaces — near the intersection of Taylorsville and Woodside roads in Lower Makefield.
- Permeable asphalt paths connecting the pedestrian canal bridge, the 1799 House and the park-n-ride lot on the Pennsylvania side.
The Commission has committed to operating and maintaining the facility’s various components and nearby Commission-owned wetland areas in perpetuity. The Commission is a self-supporting public-service agency that receives neither federal nor state tax dollars to finance its projects or operations. Funding for the operations, maintenance and upkeep of its bridges and related transportation facilities is solely derived from revenues collected at its toll bridges.
“This collection of parcels were the building blocks of our vision for what could be accomplished, providing a seamless connection to the Delaware Canal towpath, across the river to the Delaware & Raritan Canal towpath, linking pedestrians and bicyclists with an amenity that has become essential to those who use this area for exercise, recreation activities, experiencing nature, or reflection,” said DRJTBC Executive Director Joe Resta.
The facility was opened to the public’s use after a ceremony at the Commission’s office campus on the Pennsylvania side of the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge.
The ceremonial ribbon was cut by Anne Scudder Smith, ninth-generation descendant of early Ewing Township settler Richard Betts Scudder and the granddaughter of John Montgomery Scott who cut the opening-day ribbon on the first Scudder Falls Bridge in June 1961.
Yardley (PA) Police Chief Joe Kelly, who recently survived a gunshot wound responding to a domestic dispute, led the Pledge of Allegiance and Ewing (NJ) High School’s Mastersingers choir sang the National Anthem.
The featured bicyclists at the event were from the Anchor House Foundation’s “Ride for Runaway,” an annual long-distance fund-raising ride that often crosses a Commission bridge walkway. The Anchor House riders were Director Kathy Drulis and co-chairs DeWayne Tolbert and Laura Carlson.
The Ride for Runaways began in 1978 to raise necessary funds for a shelter in Trenton to keep kids safe. Anchor House now has expanded to include 10 programs and offers services to over 1000 kids and their families each year. The Ride for Runaways has raised over $9.5 million in its 43 annual rides.
“Today provides an opportunity to specifically highlight portions of a larger project where the results are obvious and impactful for generations to come,” said Resta.
Speakers at the event included:
- Yassmin Gramian, P.E., Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
- Michael Russo, Assistant Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Transportation
- John Cecil, Director of New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry
- Devin Buzard, Park Manager, Delaware Canal State Park, PA DCNR
- Yuki Moore Laurenti, Treasurer, DRJTBC Board of Commissioners
- Joe Resta, DRJTBC Executive Director
Welcome messages to the audience were given by representatives from the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge’s two host municipalities: Mayor Bert Steinmann of Ewing Twp., N.J. and Lower Makefield Supervisor John Lewis.
Because of potential interactions between walkers, runners, bicyclists and sightseers on the bridge’s walkways and ramps, the Commission has posted signs at the facility and established a webpage – www.drjtbc.org/scudderpath – outlining guidelines and rules for the Scudder Falls Shared-Use Path. The rules were developed to promote safety, mitigate potential conflicts and discourage littering and vandalism.
All users are urged to be courteous and respectful. Bicyclists are urged to maintain a slow, safe speed – 10 MPH or less – yield to pedestrians, and be prepared to stop. All path users should keep right and never block passage of others.
The following items/activities are strictly prohibited on the Scudder Falls Shared-Use Path:
- Driven motorized vehicles (exception for wheelchairs and other devices in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act)
- Skateboarding, rollerblading, roller skating
- Alcoholic beverages and controlled dangerous substance
- Blocking path/walkway
- Unleashed dogs
- Attaching/throwing objects
- Banners and signs
- Defacing property