Route 295 drivers: Get ready for a traffic horror show
A traffic nightmare is looming this week for drivers who travel on Route 295 northbound toward the Scudder Falls Bridge, which crosses the Delaware River from Mercer County into Pennsylvania. It's part of a plan to begin collecting tolls on the bridge later this month.
Starting at 6 a.m. on Monday, July 8, and continuing until about 2 p.m. on Thursday, Pennsylvania-bound traffic on the highway will be reduced from 3 lanes to 1, starting in the vicinity of the County Route 579-Bear Tavern Road interchange, at exit 75.
During that time, crews will construct a new section of the highway, steering all lanes over toward the new Scudder Falls Bridge entrance.
Joe Donnelly, the deputy executive director of communications for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, said we know from prior emergency situations “that when there’s a single-lane pattern it’s possible that traffic could back up as far as Route 1. We’re trying to get the word out for people to avoid this segment.”
He said the worst congestion is expected between 2 and 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so “we’re urging motorists to use the Trenton-Morrisville Route 1 toll Bridge as a travel alternative.”
He said while congestion is expected to be severe, one mitigating factor is “this is occurring during the time of year when there’s a large number of vacations, so there’s fewer commuters, and school is out.”
When the new Scudder Falls Bridge does open on July 10, after two years of construction, it will initially carry two lanes of Pennsylvania-bound traffic, while New Jersey-bound traffic will continue to cross the Delaware River on the old Scudder Falls Bridge.
The two bridges will remain in service in this configuration for two weeks, and then on July 24 New Jersey-bound traffic will be shifted onto the new Scudder Falls Bridge, with a concrete divider separating the opposing directions of traffic.
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission will begin collecting tolls for Pennsylvania-bound vehicles beginning in the early morning hours of July 14.
Drivers are being advised tolls will be collected using E-ZPass, with a fee of $1.25 for passenger vehicles. Any vehicle that does not have an E-ZPass transponder will get a bill in the mail for $2.60. The Toll By Plate system will use high-resolution cameras that will record license plates to bill cars' registered owners,
According to the Bridge Commission, the higher price for the Toll By Plate system is necessary to cover the cost of identifying vehicle owners, sending the invoice, and processing the non E-ZPass transaction.
On July 24, toll collection equipment will be deactivated for one day, when Route 295 traffic that is New Jersey-bound is switched over from the old Scudder Falls Bridge to the new one.
The Bridge Commission has also announced the following steps will be taken:
July 15: NJ Route 175-River Road On-Ramp to Route 295 Southbound Closes for a Year. Prior to the morning peak-commuting period, the Route 295 northbound on-ramp from NJ Route 175/River Road in Ewing will be shut down for approximately a year. Affected motorists seeking to access at Route 295 southbound at this location are advised to use the Route 295 southbound access ramp off the downstream roundabout at the nearby Route 295-Route 29 interchange (Exit 76) while this ramp closure is in effect.
July 24: New Three-Week-Long Ramp Closures Begin at the Bridge’s Flanking Pennsylvania and New Jersey I-295 Interchanges. A series of corresponding ramp closures and detours will take effect at the interchanges on both ends of the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge, when New Jersey-bound traffic gets shifted onto the new span. At the Route 295- Taylorsville Road interchange (New Hope-Yardley, Exit 10) in Pennsylvania, three ramps will close: The Route 295 EB off-ramp to Taylorsville Road, the Taylorsville Road southbound entry ramp to Route 295 eastbound/southbound immediately before the old Scudder Falls Bridge, and the Taylorsville Road northbound entry ramp to Route 295 eastbound and southbound immediately before the old Scudder Falls Bridge.
Affected traffic from these ramp closures will be detoured to the Yardley-Newtown-Route 332 interchange (Exit 8) either along Route 95 westbound from the Taylorsville Road interchange or via Taylorsville Road and Route 332-West Afton Avenue/Yardley-Newtown Road.
At the Route 295- Route 29 interchange (Exit 76) in New Jersey, one ramp will close: The off-ramp to Route 29 immediately after crossing the new bridge from Pennsylvania into New Jersey will be closed and detoured via the Route 295- Scotch Road interchange (Exit 73A). The four ramp closures and detours will enable construction crews to extend the affected ramps out to the new temporary Route 295 alignment in the vicinity of the newly opened Scudder Falls Toll Bridge’s completed upstream span. Motorists who use the affected ramps are advised to plan ahead, follow the posted detours, and allow extra time to reach their destinations while the ramp closures/posted detours are in effect.
Aug. 15: Five-Week-Long Transition Period Ends; Three-Week-Long Ramp Closures at Taylorsville Road and NJ Route 29 Interchanges Ends. All ramp closures at Taylorsville Road in Pennsylvania and Route 29 in New Jersey end. The resulting temporary alignment of I-295 and its corresponding interchange ramps is to remain in place for roughly 18 months while the second Scudder Falls Toll Bridge span gets constructed. Total project completion is expected to be achieved by summer/fall 2021.
The dates listed above are targets subject to change due to weather, emergencies, traffic considerations, and construction mobilization considerations.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published on July 1.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.