PHILLIPSBURG, NJ – The Northampton Street Toll-Supported Bridge (a.k.a. Easton-Phillipsburg “free bridge”) is expected to have its full complement of travel lanes back in service later today, the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission announced.
Work on the 18-month Northampton Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project has reached the point where uninterrupted 24-7 lane closures will no longer be necessary to carry out remaining construction activities. Over the ensuing months, only limited duration off-peak lane closures will be needed to carry out the next stages of project work at the bridge.
Except for a brief transitional period during the summer, vehicular travel at the three-lane bridge has been limited to single lanes in each direction for the past seven months.
The travel restrictions have enabled work crews to make a variety of needed structural repairs and to clean and repaint the iconic bridge’s unique cantilevered truss. The work was undertaken to put the bridge in a state of condition where large-scale repairs and protracted lane closures will not be needed for the next 15 to 20 years.
The resumption of three travel lanes tonight means the bridge will remain fully open to traffic for this weekend’s upcoming PA Bacon Fest in Easton. It also means that that an originally planned two-week-long, uninterrupted center-lane closure will no longer be needed to complete the project.
Starting next week, the contractor is expected to complete sidewalk replacement work. The project’s focus would then shift into a new stage installation of electrical-supply components, ornamental light fixtures, and a new programmable architectural lighting system to highlight the bridge’s profile along the river.
To carry out the next stage of work activities, the bridge will be restricted to single-lane travel in each direction for up to 10 hours on weekdays – roughly 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, except holidays. The first of the weekday lane closures is expected to take effect Monday.
The new day-to-day travel restrictions should be less onerous, however, because it will often be possible to position them in a manner allowing for a dedicated left-turn lane at the bridge’s Easton side. Nonetheless, the Commission says motorists might still encounter delays and backups approaching the bridge until the project is fully completed. Motorists are urged to allow additional time to reach their destinations.
The project, which began in the fall of 2021, remains on track to reach completion in spring 2023.
The 550-foot-long, 36-foot-wide bridge is the Commission’s busiest non-toll crossing. It carried a daily average of 16,500 vehicles (both directions) in 2021. The bridge has a three-ton weight limit and a 15-mph speed limit. Bridge monitors are stationed at each end of the bridge on a 24/7 basis to prevent crossings of overweight vehicles.
More information on the Northampton Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project is available on the project webpage: www.drjtbc.org/project/freebridge.