update December 6, 2013:
Both lanes of Route 22 East through downtown Easton and across the Easton--? Phillipsburg Toll Bridge were reopened this morning, ending the single--?lane eastbound travel restrictions that have slowed morning commuting periods since July, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced today.
The agency also announced that the Second Street/Bushkill Street on ramp to Route 22 East reopened today after undergoing repairs and resurfacing over the past three weeks.
Meanwhile, the Commission announced that weather--?related issues have forced the agency to recalibrate expectations for when it might be able to reopen a second travel lane along Route 22 west next week. The Commission said Tuesday has now been ruled out as a reopening date and that unrestricted westbound travel on Route 22 may not be fully restored until either Wednesday or Thursday.
Work that still needs to be performed in the westbound direction includes: glare--?scree installation on the concrete barrier separating Route 22’s eastbound and westbound lanes in Easton, hydro-- milling of the road surface, and the application of new roadway striping.
Route 22 has been limited to single travel lanes in each direction from Cemetery Hill in Easton to Memorial Drive in Phillipsburg since July. The restricted travel zone was needed to allow for execution of the first stage of a multi--?year rehabilitation project on the Easton--?Phillipsburg Toll Bridge and adjoining Commission--?owned portions of Route 22 in Easton and Phillipsburg.
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced that lane closures for the Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge Rehabilitation Project will be suspended June 26 through the end of the Independence Day weekend as an accommodation for work that PennDOT is conducting along Route 22 east of the Commission’s jurisdiction. Westbound lanes will be cleared of restrictions by approximately 3:30 p.m. while eastbound lanes will be restriction free by 5:30 p.m. today. Lane closures will be reinstituted on Monday morning, July 8, in the Commission’s project area as follows:
• Eastbound Route 22 will be reduced to a single?lane beginning at milepost 336.4 (after the 13th Street exit and before Cemetery Curve) at approximately 5 a.m. Monday, July 8.
• Westbound Route 22 will be reduced to a single?lane beginning 5 a.m. Monday, July 8.
The Commission is warning motorists to expect potential traffic backups and travel delays when single-lane patterns are in effect on Route 22 in the vicinity of the toll bridge at the Delaware River. Route 22 motorists commuting from homes in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to jobs in North Jersey or New York City are advised to access I?78 in Pennsylvania and use that roadway as a travel alternative to Route 22 instead.
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced that June 17 is the lane closure target date for a multi-faceted rehabilitation project at the 75-year-old Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge and its associated approach facilities along Route 22 in Easton, PA. and Phillipsburg, N.J.
The target-date designation means that motorists may encounter project-related travel delays on or shortly after June 17. It also means that long-term project-related lane closures will not occur any earlier than June 17.
The project is expected to be completed in spring 2015 and will involve 15 months of single-lane travel restrictions along each direction of Route 22 in the vicinity of the toll bridge: from mid-June to mid-December 2013 and from March to December in 2014. (The Commission expects two lanes of travel will be restored in each direction of the toll bridge for three months during the winter of 2013-14.) Exit and entry ramp closures also will be necessary along the Commission's portion of Route 22 in Easton, Pa. at various project intervals over the next two years. Detours will be employed when individual ramp closures are put into effect.
The Commission is urging commuters and area residents to brace themselves for travel delays and traffic backups once construction gets underway because of the project's long duration, the breadth of work elements, the extended length of the project zone, and the use of round-the-clock lane closures on Route 22.
"We intend to carry out this project with traffic moving across the toll bridge and through the extended Route 22 construction zone," said Joseph J. Resta, the Commission's executive director. "Unfortunately, the traffic will be confined to single lanes in each direction of Route 22 instead of the current two lanes of travel in each direction."
The project area also will include more than the toll bridge that carries Route 22 traffic over the Delaware River. Work also will take place on the box beam approach bridge that crosses over Route 611 in Easton, the Bank Street and Third Street overpasses in Easton, the approach roadway (full-depth replacement) in Phillipsburg and a variety of ramps and other facilities. Because of this, the project zone and single-lane traffic pattern area will extend along Route 22 from a point roughly 800 feet east of the Commission's toll plaza in Phillipsburg to the start of the S-curves west of Fourth Street in Easton.
The numbers tell the story of why motorists should anticipate delays and backups once project work begins:
* During peak commuting times, up to 2,200 vehicles cross the toll bridge using two lanes in the peak direction - from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the eastbound direction and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the westbound direction.
* Engineers estimate that a maximum of only 1,400 vehicles per hour will be able to cross the toll bridge in the peak direction once single-lane configurations are employed. This means that 800 vehicles will need to wait in traffic queues or go elsewhere to cross between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Because of these statistics, the Commission is recommending that motorists use I-78 as much as possible as a travel alternative between the states once project work begins.
The nearby three-lane 19th-century Northampton Street Bridge ("the free bridge") between Easton and Phillipsburg is not recommended as a viable travel option because it already is heavily congested at peak travel times. Also, the bridge's 3-ton posted weight restriction does not allow for passage of commercial trucks and buses.
The primary elements of the rehabilitation project are anticipated to include repairing the bridge deck; blast cleaning and painting the truss; installing a bridge drainage system; performing various steel, concrete and masonry repair work; reconstructing and repaving the bridge's approach roadways; and upgrading the toll plaza.
Northampton Co - Easton-Phillipsburg Bridge Project
update December 6, 2013: