SCUDDER FALLS >> It’s official: the first completed span of the new Scudder Falls Toll Bridge opened to a single-lane of I-295 Pennsylvania-bound traffic shortly after 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 9.
For the next two weeks, the new bridge will carry only Pennsylvania-bound traffic and the old “functionally obsolete” bridge will carry only New Jersey-bound traffic. All I-295 traffic is expected to be shifted onto the new bridge on or about July 24.
In tandem with the bridge’s opening, a series of reconstructed ramps and a new roundabout on the upstream side of I-295/NJ Route 29 interchange have been put into service. The new system of interchange ramps were constructed during a 20-week closure period that began in February. Route 29 motorists can now directly access the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge for travel to I-295 WB in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge, the Taylorsville Road access ramp to I-295 WB toward Newtown and Philadelphia also reopened. That ramp had been closed for six weeks to allow for reconstruction that allows the ramp to feed into the new I-295 WB segment on the bridge’s Pennsylvania side.
A 3-1/2-day long single-lane travel restriction along the I-295 NB approach to the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge in New Jersey is now over. This will enable motorists to have unimpeded travel along I-295 to Pennsylvania for the evening peak commuting period.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings of this week, the uninterrupted single-lane travel pattern resulted in backups in excess of five miles and travel delays of an hour or more. The single-lane pattern caused hundreds of motorists to use other nearby bridges in Trenton and Washington Crossing as a travel alternative to Pennsylvania, subsequently causing congestion and delays at those crossings.
The uninterrupted single-lane pattern was needed for a “high-intensity construction cycle” that enabled work crews to establish new transitions between the existing I-295 NB roadway and the new approach lanes constructed on the New Jersey side of the Scudder Falls Bridge.
The next significant event to occur in the opening of the new bridge will be the start of toll collections. Starting shortly after midnight on Sunday morning, July 14, the All-Electronic Tolling (AET) gantry on the Pennsylvania side of the new Scudder Falls Toll Bridge will go into operation.
The AET gantry is outfitted with E-ZPass transponder readers and high-resolution cameras and will assess tolls upon Pennsylvania-bound vehicles passing at highway speeds below.
Cash will not be accepted; there are no toll booths. DO NOT STOP.
There are two base Class 1 E-ZPass passenger vehicle tolls: $1.25 for E-ZPass and $2.60 for TOLL BY PLATE vehicle owners crossing the bridge without an E-ZPass tag. Vehicles without an E-ZPass transponder will have their license plates recorded and the registered owner will later be sent an invoice via U.S. Mail. The higher toll is necessary to cover the cost of identifying vehicle owners, sending an invoice, and processing the non-E-ZPass transaction.
Cash will not be accepted; there are no toll booths. DO NOT STOP.
A brief informational video about the new Scudder Falls Toll Bridge’s All-Electronic Tolling facility/process may be viewed on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYyL2ZJq5Bo&t=31s.
E-ZPass – Fact and Fiction
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC), which has owned the Scudder Falls Bridge since July 1, 1987, is urging area motorists to acquire E-ZPass transponders and accounts to take advantage of the fact that E-ZPass rates at the new toll bridge will be significantly lower than the TOLL BY PLATE rates.
The Commission’s toll processor – and, subsequently the entity that will handle toll transactions and TOLL BY PLATE transactions at the new Scudder Falls Toll Bridge – is the regional New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center (a.k.a. NJ E-ZPass Group.
A private vehicle E-ZPass transponder issued by any of the more-than-30 member tolling/transportation agencies in the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system can be used to get the base $1.25 E-ZPass Class 1/passenger vehicle toll rate at the new bridge.
As has long been the case at the DRJTBC’s seven existing toll bridges, a frequency-based commuter discount will be offered to motorists using the new bridge. The discount is 40-percent, which would reduce the base $1.25 Class I E-ZPass toll to 75 cents.
To qualify, a motorist make a minimum of 16 tolled trips across the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge or any combination of the DRJTBC’s network of tolled river crossings in a respective calendar month using an E-ZPass transponder issued by the Commission’s toll processor – the regional New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center.
Because the discount program is frequency based, only E-ZPass accounts administered by the DRJTBC’s toll processor -- the New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center -- can be tracked for purposes of computing and applying the discount. Motorists who meet the eligibility requirements would then have the discount automatically applied as a credit on applicable future E-ZPass statements.
1. Neither the State of New Jersey nor the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have anything to do with the E-ZPass program. Accordingly, neither state issues or administers transponders. For this reason, there is no such thing as “New Jersey E-ZPass” or a “Pennsylvania E-ZPass.”
2. Neither the State of New Jersey nor the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania receive revenue from E-ZPass. Toll revenue collected in E-ZPass transactions is directed to the respective tolling agency where a respective toll transaction occurs.
3. The E-ZPass Interagency Group – the umbrella organization of the various toll/transportation agencies that offer E-ZPass toll collections – recommends that motorists acquire their E-ZPass accounts/transponders from the toll agency whose facility or facilities they will most frequently use. If a motorist will most frequently use the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge, they should get their E-ZPass account/transponder from the bridge’s affiliated toll processor, which is the regional New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center.
4. A motorist does not need to obtain an E-ZPass account from an issuing agency in the state in which they reside.
5. The Commission’s commuter discount can be applied only to E-ZPass transponders issued and administered by the New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center (a.k.a. NJ E-ZPass Group) because that is the entity that processes the Commission’s toll transactions. The discount can thereby be tracked, tabulated and automatically applied to a respective eligible motorist’s DRJTBC-affiliated E-ZPass account. E-ZPass accounts/transponders administered or issued by the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the New York Thruway, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or any other E-ZPass-issuing agency are not eligible for the discount because their respective toll-processing systems are independent of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s toll processor.
6. The Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass Customer Service Center’s E-ZPass transponders has been – and will continue to be -- ineligible for the Bridge Commission’s Frequent Commuter Discount Program when the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge begins toll collections on Sunday. Why? Because the PA Turnpike’s E-ZPass accounts are independent and unaffiliated with those of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s toll processor. (Separate and independent servers and account systems.)
1. FALSEHOOD: A motorist will miss out on discounts at the Pennsylvania Turnpike with an E-ZPass account/transponder administered/issued by the regional New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center.
REALITY: The Pennsylvania Turnpike does not offer any discounts. The agency has E-ZPass rates and cash rates (and some TOLL BY RATES). An E-ZPass transponder issued by any E-ZPass-affiliated issuing agency is eligible for the Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass rates.
2. FALSEHOOD: A motorist with a Pennsylvania Turnpike E-ZPass will be ineligible for the base $1.25 Class 1 passenger-vehicle toll at the Scudder Falls Bridge.
REALITY: Any valid private E-ZPass transponder issued by any participating toll/transportation agency is eligible for the $1.25 base E-ZPass toll at Scudder Falls.
3. FALSEHOOD: A motorist will need two different E-ZPass transponders if they want to use the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge.
REALITY. A motorist only needs one transponder to use the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge. Besides, a motorist runs the risk of being double billed if they cross beneath the new bridge’s AET toll gantry with active transponders issued by two different toll agencies. HOWEVER, only E-ZPass transponders issued by the DRJTBC’s toll processor – the regional New Jersey E-ZPass Customer Service Center -- can be used to qualify for the DRJTBC’s Frequent Commuter Discount Program (a 40 percent reduction after making 16 or more tolled trips across any combination of DRJTBC toll bridges in a respective calendar month).