Skip to main content

Scudder Falls Bridge replacement project near Trenton, NJ reaches "Substantial Completion"

Not far from the location where George Washington and his Continental Army famously crossed the Delaware River at the height of the American Revolution, thousands of motorists are now crossing the Delaware on a new & modern expressway bridge capable of handling the traffic demands of today and tomorrow. Begun in 2017, the Scudder Falls Bridge replacement project is a $534 million program undertaken by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) and its prime contractor Trumbull Corporation aimed at replacing the aging/original interstate bridge over the Delaware River near Trenton, NJ with a wider/modern bridge built to the current interstate highway standards of the day. The original bridge opened in 1961 and included a narrow four-lane roadway without shoulders and substandard entry/exit ramps serving the interchanges at either end of the structure. For nearly 60 years, this bridge was part of the Interstate 95 corridor but in the aftermath of the realignment of the interstate onto the Pennsylvania & New Jersey Turnpikes near Bristol, PA upon Phase 1 completion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-95 Direct Connection, this bridge has been part of an extended I-295 corridor since 2018.


A ride across the old Scudder Falls Bridge (1961-2019) was a cozy experience for drivers; notice the narrow lanes & shoulders from this 2016 photo.

The scope of this project involved replacement of the 1961 river crossing with a double-wide bridge (which is to say that the new bridge is approximately twice the width of the original), while also making significant upgrades to the interchange with Route 29 on the NJ side and the opposite interchange with Taylorsville Road on the PA side. In order to keep traffic flowing on the existing bridge and its adjacent interchanges during construction, a phased approach to construction was necessary in order to minimize traffic disruptions and keep the number of necessary long-term traffic detours to a minimum. The new bridge was therefore constructed in “halves”; the northern half (completed westbound lanes) of the bridge began carrying traffic in July 2019, after which demolition of the old bridge and approaches was executed. In its place stands the southern half (completed eastbound lanes) of the new bridge, completed and opened to traffic in August 2021. Additional improvements made to the connecting roadways and interchanges in the ensuing months enabled this project to achieve the landmark “substantial completion” designation in mid-December 2021, with work expected to continue on contractor demobilization and other bridge-related punchlist items through the spring of 2022.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Interstate 295 westbound crossing the Delaware River on the new Scudder Falls Bridge; click on each individual photo (from December 2021) to see a larger version.

While not the most physically-attractive structure to cross the Delaware, this bridge functions exactly as intended as a means of enabling multi-modal travel at the speed of the 21st Century. Its roadways combine to carry 8 thru-traffic lanes of Interstate 295 traffic (twice the number of lanes of the original bridge) plus additional entry/exit ramp acceleration/deceleration lanes and full-width emergency-use shoulders. The north side of the bridge also features a pedestrian/bicycle pathway, a unique facility in the area, that connects the already-existing Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail on the NJ side with the Delaware Canal Towpath Trail on the PA side. A parking area associated with this pathway and its connecting trails is available on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge at a “Park & Ride” lot located off of Taylorsville Road near its interchange with I-295.


Interstate 295 eastbound crossing the Delaware River on the new Scudder Falls Bridge; click on each individual photo (from December 2021) to see a larger version.

As an additional historical note, this bridge is located just a few miles downstream (south) of Washington Crossing State Historic Park, the approximate location of the Continental Army’s infamous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas Night 1776 in advance of their planned (and ultimately successful) attack on a garrison of German/Hessian support troops stationed in nearby Trenton, NJ. The ensuing “Battle of Trenton” was a pivotal engagement and is widely regarded by historians as one of the early turning points of the American Revolution, but that’s another topic for another day.

Looking north/upstream along the Delaware River from the new bridge's shared-use path; from this vantage point, the area of rapids known as "Scudders Falls" can be observed in the distance. Notice the difference in spelling between the falls in the river ("Scudders") and the bridge's name ("Scudder"); click on each individual photo (from December 2021) to see a larger version.

A source of controversy within the local community (and for some reason, the road-enthusiast “hobby”) was the decision made by the client agency (the DRJTBC) in 2009 to introduce tolling to the new bridge as part of the larger financing plan for the half-billion-dollar undertaking, the single-largest infrastructure investment in the agency’s history. Since the original & replacement bridges at this location had long been under the Bridge Commission’s jurisdiction (and were therefore fair game when it comes to toll collection), the move toward the tolling of an interstate bridge at this location was not subject to the same federal approval process that other new interstate highway toll proposals are subject to. It should also be mentioned that the Bridge Commission operates as a fully self-sufficient entity that does not receive revenues from gasoline taxes or any other federal/state funding sources. As tolling is its primary source of revenue, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the Commission decided to move to implement tolls on a Commission bridge, in spite of the fact that this step had not been needed or put in place for 60 years at this location. All-electronic toll collection at the crossing began in July 2019 in the days following the completion of the first phase of the new bridge and is expected to continue well into the long-term future.


Views of the completed Scudder Falls Bridge replacement as seen from the bridge's shared-use path facility, which can be easily accessed from both sides of the Delaware River; click on each individual photo (from December 2021) to see a larger version.


The above photos take you for a photo tour of the Scudder Falls Bridge shared-use path described above. The historic 1799 House on the Pennsylvania approach contains a visitor center & public restrooms and is open daily from dawn to dusk. Also presented & preserved here is an example of the old bridge's steel support bearings, refurbished and re-cast in concrete for presentational purposes; click on each individual photo (from December 2021) to see a larger version.

How to Get There:



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Ghost Town Tuesday; Vineland, Florida; the town killed by Disney

Vineland is a small ghost town located in southwest Orange County, Florida near the junction of Florida State Road 535 and Interstate 4.  Vineland is somewhat unique due to it largely being squeezed out of existence by Lake Buena Vista which is the company town where Disney World is located. Vineland was founded in the late 1800s as Englewood.  The town name of Englewood changed to Orange Center in 1911 before finally assuming the name Vineland in 1924.  Much like the rest of Orange County the community of Vineland was centered around Citrus Grove.  In the case of Vineland said orange groves were centered around Ruby Lake. The end of Vineland came as the Disney Corporation began purchasing parcels of citrus grove land to build Lake Buena Vista.  Vineland fell into a sharp decline in the 1960s but the community managed to continue to exist to modern times.  Much of the street grid of Vineland still exists east of FL 535 but most of the original structures are either gone or falle

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del