Commission reviews congestion study

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:13

    MORRISVILLE, PA - The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission hosted a Feb. 27 public information forum to present the findings and recommendations of the Northerly Crossings Corridor Congestion Mitigation Study. The study looked at current and future transportation needs on and around the Milford-Montague Toll Bridge, the Delaware Water Gap (1-80) Toll Bridge, and the Portland-Columbia Toll Bridge. In doing so, the study included an analysis of current traffic conditions on and around the bridges, as well as future conditions though the year 2030. Traffic on the Milford-Montague Toll Bridge and toll plaza will be at acceptable levels through 2030, although future congestion levels on some of the adjacent intersections resulted in the recommendations for improvements at the Route 206/Old Mine Road intersection in Montague, New Jersey and the Route 206/SR 209 intersection in Milford, Pennsylvania. The study also recommended the construction of a left turn lane on SR 209 southbound to accommodate left turns and improved access to the sidewalk located along the north side of the bridge. The study found the Portland-Columbia Toll Bridge will operate at acceptable level for the next 25 years. The study demonstrated that the westbound direction of the Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge operates at a poor and unacceptable level of service, especially at peak rush hour on Friday evenings. Without improvements to mitigate congestion, by 2030 motorists using the bridge will experience extreme congestion, long queues at the toll plaza, and delays during peak travel periods. The study focused on three concepts to improve the corridor by widening 1-80, making toll plaza improvements, and widening the bridge. Rough cost estimates for these projects range from $490 million to $630 million. The Commission’s cost to implement these concepts ranges from $150 million to $270 million, with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Departments of Transportation required to implement complementary improvements to 1-80. In the near term, the study recommends that the Commission add an additional westbound lane within its jurisdiction, expanding the Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge to a total of five lanes with three lanes in the westbound direction. The study also recommends that the toll plaza be reconstructed to accommodate two Open Road Tolling, or highway speed E-ZPass, lanes and five or six traditional toll lanes. Based on initial estimates, the open road tolling and bridge widening could cost as much as $155 million to implement. The next step for the Commission’s consultant is to incorporate the comments from the public information forum into the draft of the study and issue a final report and recommendation in Spring 2006.