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LOWER MAKEFIELD >> The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission has approved a $56.5 million construction contract to modernize and improve the maintenance and operations capabilities in the agency’s southern service region over the next three years.

Officially listed as the Southern Operations and Maintenance Facilities Improvements Project, the undertaking involves three Bucks County locations: a six-acre tract in Middletown Township; the agency’s aging maintenance/administration building site in Morrisville Borough; and the New Hope-Lambertville (Route 202) Toll Bridge maintenance yard in Solebury.

The project would improve the maintenance, security, toll collection, salt storage and fueling installations that service the nine Commission’s Southern Region bridges – between the Trenton-Morrisville (Route 1) Toll Bridge to the south and the Lumberville-Raven Rock Toll-Supported Pedestrian Bridge to the north.

The first two facets of the contract expected to get underway would be the construction of a centralized demarcation building for utility service lines and the installation of temporary trailers for toll-collection staff near the Commission’s former administration building in Morrisville; and the construction of a new 7,000-square-foot, 5,000 ton salt-storage facility in Middletown Township. Preparatory work at these locations could begin later this summer.

The Commission awarded the multi-year construction contract to Bracy Construction, Inc. of Allentown for the not-to-exceed amount of $56,535,181.25. The action took place at the Commission’s June 28 meeting. The contract will be funded through the Commission capital improvement program, which ultimately is financed by the Commission’s toll proceeds.

The scope of work to be executed under the contract would be as follows:

Morrisville Borough

The Commission’s property adjacent to Route 1 on the Pennsylvania side of the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge would be reconfigured through various stages of demolition and construction. Preparatory work is expected to begin sometime in August.

The first task would be site preparation/mobilization followed by the creation of a one-story demarcation building that would centralize the location’s various utility service lines. A network of trailers would also be installed on the site to for toll-collection personnel to use while the site undergoes demolition and construction. The demarcation building and network of temporary trailers are expected to be completed in late winter/early spring 2022.

At this point, the contractor could then begin razing the commission’s aging four-story Morrisville administration building. This structure served as the commission’s primary back-office hub for more than 50 years. Designed during the Truman administration, it is rife with structural and operational deficiencies, including a leaky roof, poor lighting, inefficient heating and air conditioning, and poor ventilation. The building has been virtually mothballed since the transferal of its administrative staff to the Commission new office building on the Lower Makefield side of the Scudder Falls (I-295) Toll Bridge in September 2019.

The removal of the old administration building would then allow the contractor to construct a smaller two-story, 16,120-square foot operations building that would house toll collection staff and various Commission security personnel. The replacement building is expected to be completed in late summer/early fall 2023.

During the operations building’s construction, the contractor also would begin demolition of the Morrisville location’s maintenance building and garages. The start of this work is dependent on the completion of a new maintenance yard in Langhorne (see below). The new maintenance building to be constructed at Morrisville would have 8,910-square-feet of space for storing maintenance vehicles and equipment. The structure also would house a sign shop, a wood shop, locker room, and other support facilities. This building is expected to be the last one constructed under the contract, opening for use sometime in summer 2024.

When completed, the changes at Morrisville would complete a long-needed transformation of the site. The first stage of work occurred last year under a $3.3 million contract that paid for the construction of a larger, more environmentally sound salt-storage building. This was built largely within the footprint of a former parking area next to the administration building. That contract also included the installation of a canopy-covered vehicle fueling area, a magnesium-chloride mixing/dispensing system, truck-cleaning apparatus, new utility service lines, lightening-protection measures, and site fencing. Work began in May 2020 and was completed in November – in time to handle 2020-21 winter storms.

The new 1,750-square-foot salt storage building is large enough to handle 500 tons of salt. The building has a concrete floor, concrete flagstone-textured walls with translucent top panels to allow for daylight infiltration aimed at reducing electric-energy costs, and a standing-seam roof.

The structure replaced a wooden 500-ton salt shed that was constructed by Commission maintenance personnel decades ago.

Middletown Township

The Commission in 2019 purchased four adjoining parcels totaling 6 acres for purposes of creating a new facility that will serve as the base of maintenance operations for the Commission’s southern region – all of which lies in Bucks County and portions of Mercer and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. When completed, this new maintenance site is expected to feature two buildings, adjoining parking lots, and ancillary service/equipment islands

The location is virtually equidistant to the Commission’s two southernmost toll bridge – the Trenton-Morrisville (Route 1) Toll Bridge and the Scudder Falls (I-295) Toll Bridge. The new maintenance center would primarily handle the routine maintenance needs of the dual-span Scudder Falls Bridge and the nearby administration building in Lower Makefield.

Site clearing of the Middletown Township site took place in late 2019 and early 2020. The property is zoned industrial and is adjacent to a landscaping business, railroad tracks and a PECO utility substations. When fully operational, the Commission plans to have primary access to this site from Big Oak Road with secondary employee access from Woodbourne Road.

Under the recently awarded contract, the first facilities to be constructed at the site would be a 7,000-square-foot, 5,000-ton salt storage building, a fueling island, and a de-icing area consisting of a brine storage/mixing/dispensing station and a magnesium-chloride storage/dispensing station. The salt-storage building would be barn-styled, and divided into two sections for ease of loading and unloading salt. Work on these initial winter-storm-related facilities would begin in August and reach completion in mid-to-late winter.

The next stage of work at Middletown Township would be construction of a 44,347-square-foot building with a partial second story. This building would have substantial garage space for vehicles and equipment, a repair shop, a vehicle wash bay, welding and office areas, lockers and showers, and a kitchen/lunchroom. The building would have a partial second story and an open mezzanine for storage of equipment and supplies. The design calls for a steel superstructure with a masonry split-faced veneer finish on the building’s lower half and a corrugated metal-panel façade on the upper half. A cast-in-place concrete foundation with spread footings would surround a concrete slab floor.

Solebury Township

The Commission’s property on the Pennsylvania side of the New Hope-Lambertville (Route 202) Toll Bridge is the base of maintenance operations for that highway bridge; the nearby two-lane truss bridges at Washington Crossing, New Hope-Lambertville, and Centre Bridge-Stockton; and the pedestrian-only suspension bridge at Lumberville-Raven Rock.

Under the recently awarded construction contract, a new fuel-dispensing island and fuel-management system will be installed at the New Hope location. Work on the facility would begin this year and is slated to be completed in early 2022.

Note: All start and completion dates in this press release are tentative and subject to change due to weather, availability of materials, and other considerations.

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