Northampton Co - Easton-Phillipsburg Bridge Project

Published: May 29 2013 03:39:56 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 09 2014 08:30:09 AM EDT

update April 8, 2014:

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission today warned job commuters to plan ahead and allow extra time to reach their destinations if they plan to use Route 22 westbound at the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge during the Wednesday evening peak travel period - 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesday evening will mark the first time that job commuters will encounter a new split traffic pattern on the Route 22 westbound approach to the bridge's toll plaza in Phillipsburg. This particular new pattern will require all cash customers to move into the right lane before the roadway is split into two concrete-barrier-separated chutes east of the toll plaza area. The left lane at the roadway split will provide access to E-ZPass-only toll lanes. Cash customers will have no choice but to continue through E-Pass collection lanes if they fail to move right before the highway split.

Establishment of the new split pattern along Route 22 west in Phillipsburg is scheduled to begin immediately following today's evening peak commuting period - at roughly 7 p.m.

The potential for increased traffic congestion and driving delays often arises whenever new travel patterns are established and job commuters encounter the changes for the first time. This will occur for the first time late Wednesday afternoon.

The Commission is urging evening job commuters to plan ahead by allowing more time to reach their destinations, altering their commutes to another time, or using the I-78 Toll Bridge as an alternate travel route if at all possible.

To raise commuter awareness of the situation, the project contractor will install a series of fixed-metal and portable electronic signs along Route 22 westbound in Phillipsburg to warn motorists about the approaching roadway split and the need for cash-paying customers to use only the right lane. Handout cards warning of the impending split travel pattern also are being distributed to cash customers at the toll plaza. Additionally, a Twitter message has been sent to individuals who requested updates through that social media outlet.

The split-pattern is necessary to enable work crews to rehabilitated worn and damaged pavement sections in the toll plaza's center collection lane. An extended concrete-barricaded construction zone will be put into place before and after the toll plaza, splitting the toll plaza into two distinct sections, with two E-ZPass-only lanes on the left side of the cordoned work area and two mixed-mode (combined cash/E-ZPass) lanes on the right side.

More information on the Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge Rehabilitation Project is available at www.drjtbc.org/tollbridgerehab.
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update April 7, 2014:

Cash toll payers at the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge will need to stay alert and keep right beginning Tuesday night when a new split-traffic pattern is established on the Route 22 westbound approach to the bridge's toll plaza in Phillipsburg, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced today.

(Note: This split travel pattern originally was expected to take effect 7 p.m. tonight (Monday), but the scheduled implementation has been postponed an additional day due to rain forecasts.)

The split-pattern is necessary to enable work crews to rehabilitated worn and damaged pavement sections in the toll plaza's center collection lane. An extended concrete-barricaded construction zone will be put into place before and after the toll plaza. This island-like area effectively will split the toll plaza into two distinct sections, with two E-ZPass-only lanes on the left side of the cordoned work area and two mixed-mode (combined cash/E-ZPass) lanes on the right side.

As a result, it will be necessary to split Route 22 westbound into two separate lanes well ahead of the toll plaza. The taper splitting the two-lane highway into two concrete-barrier-separated chutes will begin shortly after the last New Jersey exit in Phillipsburg. All cash motorists will need to keep right at this point and use the right lane to pay cash at the toll plaza. Cash customers who fail to heed warning signs along the roadway and then use the left lane to reach the toll plaza will be blocked off from any cash-collection lanes. They will have no choice but to go through the E-ZPass-only lanes ahead.

The new split traffic pattern is scheduled to be put into place 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 8. Once established, it is expected to remain in place until the end of April.

A series of fixed-metal and portable electronic signs will be posted along Route 22 westbound in Phillipsburg to warn motorists about the approaching roadway split and the need for cash-paying customers to use only the right lane. Handout cards warning of the impending split travel pattern also will be distributed to cash customers at the toll plaza during this evening's peak travel period.

The center toll plaza lane work is one element of a multi-faceted rehabilitation project currently underway at the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge and related approach facilities along Route 22.

The scheduled travel-restriction start dates and times are subject to change due to weather, emergency, and traffic considerations. Motorists should reduce their speeds whenever traveling through a designated work zone.

More information on the Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge Rehabilitation Project is available at www.drjtbc.org/tollbridgerehab.

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update April 3, 2014:

The Broad Street exit ramp from Route 22 East in Phillipsburg is scheduled to be closed two days next week for full-depth concrete rehabilitation work, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced today.

The ramp closure is expected to begin 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 8, and remain in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday, April 10. Motorists are urged to use alternate routes when the ramp is closed.

The travel restriction is subject to change due to weather, traffic conditions and emergencies. Motorists are urged to reduce their speeds and use caution when travelling through active work zones.

Next week's ramp work is the first in a series of driving-surface rehabilitation measures that are planned to be carried out over the coming weeks at the exit - the first in New Jersey after the Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge. The work is part of a much broader construction project currently taking place at the toll bridge and related approach facilities along Route 22. The other planned construction activities at the exit are not expected to require additional full-ramp closures.
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update April 1, 2014:

The on-ramp to Route 22 eastbound from Route 611/Larry Holmes Drive in Easton (last highway entrance ramp in Easton before the toll bridge) has now been shutdown.  The ramp closure will remain in place without interrupted for an extended period due to safety considerations.
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update March 20,2014:

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission released a pair of maps of the initial single-lane traffic patterns that will be put into effect next week along both directions of Route 22 in the vicinity of the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge.

Work crews are expected to begin the process of setting up the project's 2014 work zone on the toll bridge and adjoining portions of Route 22 around 9:30 a.m. Monday, March 24. The work zone will be established incrementally over a three-day period, eventually moving all traffic to single lanes in each direction on the downstream (southern) side of the bridge and adjoining portions of Route 22 in Easton.

The single lanes will be 10-foot wide on the toll bridge. Additionally, there will be short, narrow lane crossovers on Route 22 westbound, beginning after the Thursday morning rush. The first will shift westbound traffic into the current left eastbound lane shortly after the toll plaza in Phillipsburg. The second will direct the traffic back to the two-lane westbound freeway after Fourth Street in Easton.

These geometric conditions are likely to have a slow-down effect on westbound traffic, particularly when trucks decelerate to travel through the crossover locations. For this reason, westbound motorists should consider allowing additional time to reach their destinations, particularly during weekday evening peak commuting periods - 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

While eastbound motorists will be spared of lane crossovers this year, they still will be impacted once uninterrupted, around-the-clock single-lane travel restrictions go back into effect. Eastbound motorists should be particularly wary during the morning peak driving period - 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. -- Tuesday, March 25, as job commuters face new single-lane travel patterns for the first time this year.

The accompanying maps (They are posted on the webpage the Commission has created for the project - www.drjtbc.org/tollbridgerehab) depicts what the prevailing traffic pattern for the project's 2014 construction stage will look like once it is put fully into place. The target date for full installation of the traffic patterns in the maps is Thursday, March 27.

The travel lane restrictions identified in the maps will be as follows:

- Route 22 East - Taper to a single lane will begin after the 13th Street interchange and slightly before Cemetery Curve in Easton. Eastbound traffic will be limited only to the right lane through downtown Easton, across the toll bridge and into Phillipsburg, where traffic will return to two lanes.

- Route 22 West - Single lane - already in place - begins before the toll plaza on the bridge's Phillipsburg side. After fanning out at the toll plaza, westbound motorists will encounter a taper into a single lane shortly after passing through the toll plaza. This lane will then cross over to the current left eastbound lane, remaining in that lane across the toll bridge and along Route 22 through downtown Easton to a crossover back to the westbound lanes around Fourth Street.

- Route 22 west exit ramp to Route 611 - This ramp is immediately after Route 22 crosses the toll bridge into Easton and is scheduled to close shortly after 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 27.

- Route 611/Riverside Drive beneath Route 22 - This crescent-shaped roadway crosses beneath Route 22 immediately west of the toll bridge and will be shut down after 9:30 a.m. March 31.

While this initial prevailing travel configuration will be modified as work progresses during the year, both directions of Route 22 will be limited to continuous single-lanes of travel until mid-December, when the bridge rehabilitation project's 2014 work stage is scheduled to end.

Further project work is expected to be conducted into the spring of 2015, but these remaining construction activities should require only periodic short-term off-peak travel restrictions.

More information on the Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge Rehabilitation Project is available at www.drjtbc.org/tollbridgerehab. To enhance communication with the public, the Commission also has established a toll-free question/comment line - 1-855-FIX-SPAN, a Twitter handle - @22tollbridge, and a project-specific email address - 22tollbridge@drjtbc.org.

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update March 5, 2014:

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.

Motorists using Route 22 westbound should expect to encounter backups and delays during the evening peak driving period - 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. - today and for every day going forward.

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, 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. This 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.

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update March 5, 2014:

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced that a nine?month-long prohibition on trucks classified as oversized vehicles and/or permit loads will go into effect Thursday, March 6, 2014, at the Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge.  

Additionally, the Commission is urging all truckers to avoid driving through the project area altogether during peak commuting times because of anticipated travel delays, traffic congestion, and the project area’s tight roadway geometry.

The bridge has been open to all truck sizes and payloads since the 2013 construction stage of the nearly two-year rehabilitation project ended with the lifting of single-lane traffic restrictions in mid-December.

But this traffic-impact hiatus is in the process of  changing. Construction activities for the project’s 2014 work stages were initiated last night, setting off a series of temporary lane-closure restrictions that will be limited primarily to overnight hours along the toll bridge and adjoining portions of Route 22 for two weeks.

Sometime after March 16, 2014, these initial short?duration lane closures are expected to go into effect on an uninterrupted 24/7 basis, reducing Route 22 to single-lane travel in each direction through the project area well into December.

These single lanes will have 10-foot widths on the toll bridge. Additionally, there will be short, narrow lane crossovers on Route 22 well in advance and after the toll bridge. These geometric conditions will make truck steering difficult and should have a slow-down effect on traffic.

As result of these short-term project setup staging and long-term uninterrupted closures, truck passage in the project area will be strictly restricted to what is legally allowed without special state-issued permits: 8-foot 6-inch vehicular width, 13-foot 6?inch vehicular height, 60-foot lengths,and  maximum 80,000?pound loads.

The limitations are being transmitted to truck permit issuance offices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Also, the Commission is sending an alert to trucking organizations and trucking media outlets.

The Commission is warning truckers and shippers to take heed of the traffic situation that is about to develop in the vicinity of the Route 22 toll bridge once project set-up activities get underway . Project engineers warn there will be delays and backups along Route 22 during peak commuting periods and increased traffic congestion on local streets in the Easton and Phillipsburg.

Truckers are being urged to plan ahead by rescheduling travel to off?peak periods or using I-78 as a time-saving travel alternative.

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.

A project-specific webpage with more information may be accessed directly at: www.drjtbc.org/tollbridgerehab.

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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.

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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.
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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.