Effective immediately, the Route 22 westbound approach to the toll plaza for the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge will be restricted to a single travel lane on a 24/7 basis, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced Wednesday.
Motorists using Route 22 westbound should expect to encounter backups and delays, especially during the afternoon peak driving period - 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. - beginning Wednesday and continuing every day going forward.
Officials did not say how long the one-lane restriction will remain in place at the toll plaza.
The change is happening because this winter's sustained cold temperatures caused accelerated deterioration of the bridge.
The long-term single-lane westbound travel restriction before the toll plaza originally was expected to be put into place at the end of next week, as one of the key set-up elements for the 2014 stage of the rehabilitation project that got underway at the toll bridge last year.
But for safety reasons, it has been deemed more prudent to keep an uninterrupted single-lane travel restriction in place along Route 22 immediately before the toll plaza.
Officals said it will ensure safe movement of traffic through the toll plaza area while one of its toll lanes is taken out of service for repairs as part of the project.
Engineers have determined that a portion of the roadway in the toll plaza area sustained "accelerated deterioration" due to this winter's extreme polar-vortex-induced cold snaps and periodic short-term thawing periods requiring an earlier start to the roadway repair work.
The commission is is informing westbound motorists of the single-lane pattern and delays through a Twitter post, the 511NJ travel alert system and message signs along Route 22 west.