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DRJTBC - Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge Rehabilitation and One Auxillary Northbound Lane

Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge Rehabilitation

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission successfully carried out a major rehabilitation of the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge and its respective approach structures and roadways over a three-year period -- from late 2006 and late 2009. The bridge carries Route 1 over the Delaware River between Trenton, New Jersey and Morrisville, Pennsylvania.  The project area extended begin just south of the viaduct over the Delaware Canal and Conrail in Morrisville and ended just north of the South Broad Street Overpass in Trenton.Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge

The Commission contracted with Conti Enterprises, Inc., of South Plainfield, N.J. to construct the improvements designed under the project.  Hill International of Marlton, N.J. was the construction manager.

Project elements included:

  • Rehabilitating the main river bridge and widening it to accommodate a northbound auxiliary lane for safer exiting into Trenton;
  • Reconstructing the Route 1 pavements on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey approaches to the bridge;
  • Providing a deceleration lane on the viaduct over the Delaware Canal and Conrail property on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge;
  • Modifying the interchange at South Pennsylvania Avenue in Morrisville and installing a new traffic signal and resurfacing the pavement on South Pennsylvania Avenue;
  • Installing noise walls adjacent to northbound Route 1 in Morrisville;
  • Constructing a new toll plaza, serving southbound motorists on the Morrisville side of the bridge;
  • noise walls adjacent to northbound Route 1 in Pennsylvania and constructing a new toll plaza;
  • Realigning the NJ Route 29 Ramp (Ramp C) and constructing a new bridge over Route 29 to allow for improved access to that highway;
  • Rehabilitating, cleaning and repainting structural steel components of the bridge and its Route 1 approaches.

The project achieved substantial completion in September 2009, two weeks ahead of the schedule original established for the $102 million undertaking.  The widened and rehabilitated facility was formally rededicated with a ceremony and plaque unveiling on November 12, 2009, with participation by representatives from the bridge's host communities of Trenton and Morrisville.  The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Mr.Victor Cicero, a Veteran of the Korean War and a retired police chief for the Borough of Morrisville.  The National Anthem was sung by Ms. Kamil Stokes, a Trenton teenager attending the Mercer County School of Performing Arts.

At the time of its dedication, the rehabilitated and widened bridge constituted the largest single capital project completed by the Commission in its 75 year history of operations.  The dedication ceremony also marked the halfway point of completed bridge restoration, improvement or replacement projects scheduled to take place under the Commission's rolling $1 billion Capital Improvement Program which began in 2001 with financing provided under a toll increase that took effect in late 2002.  (The Commission does not receive any federal or state funds; the cost of its rehabilitation projects are paid for solely through toll revenues.)

The Commission and its design team has received a series of awards for the project, including the Grand Conceptor Award, the top prize annually bestowed by the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies. The project also received the 2010 Project of the Year Award from the Professional Engineers Society of Mercer County and an Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey.

A featured element of the project that made it so award-worthy was the employment of unique cantilevered pier cap extensions to widen the bridge. This design approach enabled the Commission to widen the bridge without impacting the bridge's footprint in the river below. It also enabled the Commission to conduct the project while still allowing traffic to cross on the structure, although drivers had to navigate a series of narrow lane shifts throughout the construction period.

The project's design engineers - Louis Berger Group, Inc. - were responsible for recommending the use of cantilevered pier cap extensions to widen the bridge.

"This project was significant for its innovative and aesthetic approach to constructing cantilever pier cap extensions for widening an existing structure with minimal environmental impact," the ACEC of New Jersey said in bestowing its award. "The project increased capacity on an intermodal crossing, as well as replaced the highly deteriorated decks and rehabilitated the 12 bridges and roadways in this project (area) without diverting traffic. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget for a very satisfied client."

Staging of the rehabilitation and widening project began November 27, 2006, with construction related detours and lane closures commencing in January 2007. To mitigate impacts on the traveling public, the project was conducted in three stages, with the bridge remaining open to traffic throughout the entire duration of construction activities. Stage 1 was completed in spring 2008.  Stage 2 was finished in fall 2008.  Stage 3 is to be substantially completed by the end of 2009.

At that time when ground was broken, the Trenton-Morrisville (Route 1) Toll Bridge was a rutted, 50-year-old-plus facility that was struggling to keep up with 21st Century traffic demands.  Traffic counts on the bridge had risen from just over 1 million vehicles in its first full year of operation in 1953 to well over 18 million vehicles by the year 2000.

The old facility had many shortcomings:

  • Severe geometric deficiencies on some of the ramp systems near the approaches.
  • Deteriorating concrete bridge deck.
  • Corroding bearings beneath the girders.
  • Parapets were outdated and eroding.
  • Excessive settling on numerous concrete slabs on the approach roadways.
  • Poor drainage in some areas, especially in heavy rains.
  • The toll plaza dated back to the Eisenhower administration.

By any standard of measure, it was clear the bridge needed an overhaul and some modernizing.

This project, in fact, was the first rehabilitation and widening project to be launched on any of the seven toll bridges in the DRJTBC system under the agency's Capital Improvement Program.

While the project caused travel delays and motorist angst, the Commission received very positive comments from the public when the work was completed and all of the various improvements could be fully utilized.

One such traveler was Thomas Jeske of Langhorne, Pa., who sent the following kudo:

"Fabulous job on the redesign and completion of the Route 1 toll bridge. Traffic flows SO much better now in both directions, especially during rush hours. I'm sure that has removed a great deal of frustration for many commuters. It certainly has for me.

Thank you for a job well done!"

The bridge was the Commission's third most traveled toll bridge in 2008, carrying an average 49,900 vehicles per day over the Delaware River between Trenton, N.J. and Morrisville, Pa. The bridge originally opened to traffic as a four-lane facility on December 1, 1952, the second of seven toll bridges constructed and operated by the Commission.

The bridge is a 12-span, simply supported composite steel girder and concrete deck structure with an overall length of 1,324 feet. The granite-faced piers and abutments are reinforced concrete.

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