The more than $500 million project to replace the Scudder Falls Bridge that connects Lower Makefield to New Jersey should be complete by August 2021.
The original bridge was completed in 1959 and, according to experts from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, has an obsolete design and would require vast repairs to the deck of the bridge to properly extend its life. The 59,000 cars per day on the stretch of I-95 that uses the span exceeds the capabilities of the current bridge, as well.
Kevin Skeels, a professional engineer and the assistant chief engineer with the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, gave a presentation Thursday morning at the TMA Bucks annual breakfast on the history, progress, and future of the bridge replacement project.
The project from beginning to end will cost about $530 million, Skeels explained.
The first traffic study in the project began in 1990. Between 2012 and 2017, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission obtained project permits and completed long lead critical tasks like coordinating with stakeholders and completing traffic and environmental studies. In recent years, the replacement project started up.
“A job like this has a lot of different players and there are a lot of different agencies involved,” Skeels said.
The project spans 4.4 miles, 2.8 of those miles are in Pennsylvania. The other 1.6 miles are in New Jersey, Skeels said.
The revamp will add a third lane in each direction, bringing the total lane count up to six. Between the Delaware Canal and the river, a four story bridge monitor building will be erected. The building will house electronic toll collecting equipment and allow staff to keep an eye the bridge. This includes hourly patrols on the pedestrian crossing, Skeels said.
One major change will be the addition of tolls. While there will be no toll plaza, tolls will be assessed and collected electronically, Skeels explained.
The $1.25 toll will only be applicable to vehicles traveling southbound from New Jersey into Pennsylvania like other bridges under the commission’s jurisdiction. The cost of the project will be totally covered by the commission’s toll collection. No taxpayer money will be used for the bridge replacement, Skeels said.
The completed bridge will have a full 12-foot shoulder on the right side and a widened shoulder on the left side for a potential bus rapid transit lane.
Most of the people who use the bridge are Bucks County residents, Skeels said.