Call or email: Director of Community Affairs Jodee Inscho
Phone: 267-394-6561

Sept. 21 UPDATE: Final design of the forthcoming New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge Rehabilitation Project has been completed. This project has been put out to bid.

Please see the informational display boards from the public open houses held in New Hope on June 14 and Lambertville on June 15 for more information on how project construction and travel impacts are expected to be staged.

Project Overview

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission is preparing to rehabilitate its 119-year-old New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge.  The six-span steel Pratt-truss superstructure was last rehabilitated in 2004.

The current schedule is for project design and early site preparations to take place in 2023, followed by the execution of prescribed construction activities in 2024 — the 120th anniversary year of the current steel bridge’s construction.

Major anticipated project tasks include:

  • Repairs to various bridge truss structural components;
  • Cleaning and repainting of the entire steel superstructure and bearings;
  • Replacement of the bridge’s walkway; and
  • Installation of a programmable LED lighting system that will highlight the bridge’s architectural profile along the river between Lambertville and New Hope.

Execution of the rehabilitation project will impact motorists, pedestrians, residents, and local businesses.

Because of the extent of work performed during the bridge’s 2004 rehabilitation project, the Commission anticipates that the number of tasks involved in the 2024 project will be less extensive.  However, it’s expected that the bridge’s walkway will be closed from January to mid-April 2024. Vehicular travel across the bridge also will be restricted to a single lane (travel in the Pennsylvania-bound direction only) for a large portion of the year.

More information on these travel impacts and other aspects of the project can be accessed by clicking on the Open House Informational Display Board tab in the drop-down menu in this page’s right column.

This webpage will be updated periodically through design and construction.

Project Information

The Commission provided two open houses and a 14-day public comment period prior to this project’s final design process, which began July 1, 2023.

This public involvement effort generated written comments and/or questions from 49 different individuals.  Of the 54 comments/questions received, 20 were submitted via an open-house form and 34 were submitted online. Five individuals submitted twice.

The majority of comments/questions concerned two topics: (1) the architectural lighting planned for the bridge, and (2) the free shuttle service the Commission has committed to provide while the bridge walkway is closed for replacement between January and late April 2024.  The architectural lighting is a facet of the project final design process.  However, the shuttle service is neither part of the design process or the anticipated construction contract.  More information will be provided on this service once the Commission contracts with a vendor to provide the service.

CLICK HERE to read the Commission staff responses to comments/questions submitted as part of this project’s pre-final-design public comment process. 

Project Goals

  • Extend the bridge’s operational service life for New Hope and Lambertville
  • Improve safety by putting the bridge in a good state of repair
  • Mitigate major repairs and protracted lane closures for a minimum of 15 years
  • Install an architectural lighting system to enhance the bridge’s profile between the tourism-oriented commercial centers of New Hope and Lambertville at night

This project continues to advance in accordance with the projected schedule.  All future dates are tentative estimates (as of September 21, 2023) and are subject to change:

  • Award of Design Contract/Limited Notice to Proceed — February 28, 2023
  • Open houses June 14, 2023 in New Hope and June 15, 2023 in Lambertville
  • Public comment period on open house materials ended 4 p.m. June 30, 2023
  • Final Design began — July 1, 2023
  • Design process completed second week of September 2023
  • Project put out to bid: Sept. 19, 2023
  • Award of Construction Contract — November 2023
  • Contractor Mobilization/Field Bridge Preparations — Late 2023
  • Construction Begins with full-time traffic and pedestrian impacts — January 2024  (See project staging depictions under Open House Information Display Boards tab above.)
  • Completion of Bridge Painting — Late Spring 2024
  • Installation of Architectural Lighting — Summer 2024
  • Substantial Completion — Late August 2024
  • Final Completion — Fall 2024

The anticipated scope of work for this bridge rehabilitation is anticipated to include (as of March 2023):

  • Patch spalls at abutment bridge seats, pier caps and pier noses
  • Repair various structural steel components
    • Repair/replace bottom-chord members that have corrosion holes
    • Repair/replace cracked pin collard at bottom chord pin connections
    • Insert shim plates between stub stringers bottom flanges and bearing seat over each pier
    • At second span from Pennsylvania side, drill out downstream truss’s plug welds and install high-strength bolts
    • Straighen/re-tension bent and/or loose I-Bar bottom chord members
    • Repair/replace cross bracing, sway bracing, portal angles with corrosion holes
    • Repair/replace damaged vertical in the upstream truss on the first span from the Pennsylvania side
    • Straighten an out-of-plane floorbeam on the first span from the Pennsylvania side
  • Evaluate the steel open-grate deck
  • Remove current fiberglass walkway panels and replace them with foam-core fiber-reinforced polymer panels
  • Re-anodize the walkway railings and reinstall
  • Install high-strength bolts to replace missing or bent anchor bolts at abutment and pier-truss bearings, and missing connection bolt in the upstream truss of the third pier from the New Jersey side
  • Repoint areas of deteriorated or missing mortar in the abutments and piers, replacing deteriorated stones as needed
  • Replace the corroded stormwater pipe and associated failing inlet at the downstream Pennsylania side of the bridge
  • Repair deteriorated patches in the New Jersey approach sidewalk
  • Replace approach guiderail end treatment on the Pennsylvania side
  • Clean and paint the steel superstructure and bearings
  • Repair the fractured capstone at the New Jersey approach barrier/retaining wall
  • Clean and paint the guide rail end treament on the Pennsylvania side and guide rail scrapes for the entire facility
  • Clean debris from the deck joints at the New Jersey and Pennsylvania abutments; replace strip-seal glands at the two abutments
  • Clean and lubricate the bridge’s truss bearings
  • Seal cracks in the west approach pavement
  • Remove non-operating navigation light on second span from New Jersey side
  • Replace the bridge’s highway lighting fixtures, along with cabling and conduit as needed
  • Replace conduit, fiber and equipment for the bridge’s security cameras
  • Install programmable color-changing aesthetic lighting to highlight the bridge’s architectural profile at night

Design Contract Work

  • Manage and administer the project, including development and implementation of public involvement and outreach.
  • Conduct an in-depth bridge inspection
    • Identify elements that require repair, strengthening or replacement
    • Collect sufficient information for the detailing of appropriate repairs, including documenting the as-built conditions (e.g. size, connection details, etc.).
    • (Note: The inspections are not expected to significantly impact motorists, but the bridge’s walkways could be closed or restricted for brief periods when engineers are conducting their work.)
  • Perform bridge load ratings followed by recommendations for strengthening, if necessary.
  • After the bridge inspection process, design engineers will map the course of action to address identified issues with the bridge and plan out the other major tasks that the Commission has budgeted to be conducted during the project.
  • Provide final bridge load ratings based on the post rehabilitation, as-built conditions of the bridge.
  • Evaluate the useful life expectancy of the steel grid deck.
  • Develop drawings, list structural details, compile construction specifications and map traffic-control plans, sequencing the project’s tasks in a manner that mitigates impacts to motorists, pedestrians, and the bridge’s two host communities.  These materials will be presented to the public at open houses where people can ask questions and provide comment.
  • Develop a lighting design for replacing the bridge’s roadway and sidewalk lighting.  Design will include placements and intensity of lighting.
  • Develop final plans, specifications and costs.
  • Provide post-design services.

The current six-span steel Pratt-truss New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge is the Commission’s fourth oldest superstructure.  It opened to traffic in July 1904. The older superstructures are at Calhoun Street (1884), Northampton Street (1895-96), and Riegelsville (April 1904).

The bridge’s steel superstructure rests on abutments and piers believed to have been constructed in 1813 and modified after major floods in 1841 and 1903.  The steel superstructure was designed by R. G. Develin, a Pennsylvania Railroad civil engineer, and constructed between April and August 1904 by Lewis F Shoemaker & Co. of Pottstown, PA.  The bridge’s steel members were manufactured by the Cambria Steel Company in Johnstown, PA.  The bridge was formally dedicated on Labor Day weekend 1904.

The bridge was constructed for the second incarnation of the New Hope Delaware Bridge Co., which operated it as a tolled crossing for its first 17 years.   The local shareholder-owned bridge company sold its bridge to the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey on December 31, 1919 for $225,000.  The sale had been arranged by the former Joint Commission for Elimination of Toll Bridges — Pennsylvania-New Jersey, the predecessor agency to today’s Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

The two states jointly owned the bridge for 67 years, annually paying the old Joint Commission and, later, the new Bridge Commission to operate and maintain the bridge. On July 1, 1987, the two states conveyed ownership of the bridge outright to the Bridge Commission under terms of a revised federal Compact that directed the Commission to operate and maintain the bridge — and 11 other bridges like it — with a share of the proceeds collected at the agency’s toll bridges.

The second bridge span from the Pennsylvania side sustained considerable damage in the historic river flood of August 19, 1955.  The bridge was subsequently shut down to all but emergency vehicles for about five weeks while repairs were made.  The bridge reopened to traffic September 22, 1955.

The bridge carried U.S. 202 across the Delaware River until 1971, when a four-lane toll bridge opened about a mile upstream.  Even before the construction of the toll bridge, the aging truss bridge between New Hope and Lambertville had its weight limit reduced several times.

The bridge’s last rehabilitation in 2004 was significant.  Major work items performed under the project included replacement of the floor system and deck; widening of the walkway to eight feet from the former six feet and installing a fiberglass walkway surface; superstructure and
substructure repairs; and cleaning and painting of the steel superstructure and bearings.

The bridge’s current posted weight restriction is 4 tons.  The Commission posts bridge monitors at both ends of the structure to protect it from overweight vehicles.  In 2022, 1,038 vehicles were denied entry onto the bridge and turned away by the stationed bridge monitors.

A total of 4,519,653 vehicular crossings were recorded at the bridge in 2022.  That works out to an annual average of 12,400 vehicles per day.

The bridge has a 15 m.p.h. speed limit and 10-foot vertical clearance.

The Commission considers this bridge to be the most painted and photographed structure along the river, owing largely to its location between the arts-oriented communities of New Hope and Lambertville.  The bridge also is believed to have the highest pedestrian usage counts of any crossing along the river.

Year constructed/opened: 1904

Structure type: Steel Pratt truss

Total length: 1055 feet (individual span lengths vary only slightly)

Width: 27 feet (outside truss)

Number of  traffic lanes:

  • PA-bound – 1
  • NJ-bound – 1

Total clear roadway width: 20 feet, 7 inches

Sidewalk width: 8 feet

Load posting: 4 tons

Vertical clearance on structure: 10-feet

FHWA classification: Functionally Obsolete

Last Rehabilitation: 2004

Last Painted: 2004

Flood Info (river reading levels in feet):

  • Normal: 49
  • Warning: 55
  • Flood: 62
  • Top of pier: 67.5

River Crossing Ownership

  • New Hope Delaware Bridge Co. (first incarnation) – 1814-1850
  • NJ-PA Receivers – Feb. 27, 1850-Apr. 4, 1854
  • John Michener/James Gordon (Philadelphia attorneys) – Apr. 4, 1854-Nov. 8, 1855
  • Samuel Grant of Philadelphia – Nov. 8, 1855-Sept. 23, 1872
  • Heirs of Samuel Grant – until May 11, 1887
  • New Hope Delaware Bridge Co. (second iteration) – May 11, 1887-Jan. 3, 1920 (note: closing took place Dec. 31, 1919 in Philadelphia)
  • New Jersey and Pennsylvania (owned jointly); managed and maintained with annual tax subsidies by former Joint Commission for Elimination of Toll Bridges — Pennsylvania-New Jersey — January 3, 1920 to December 28, 1934
  • New Jersey and Pennsylvania (owned jointly); managed and maintained with annual tax subsidies by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission December 28, 1934 to June 30, 1987
    • States’ total joint ownership -67 years
  • Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission — July 1, 1987 to present (cost of operation and maintainence supported by a shares of toll proceeds collected at the Commission’s eight toll bridges)
  • Bridge financing history
    • Private tolled crossing – 105 years
    • Public non-tolled crossing – 103 years

Bridge Roadway Drone Footage – Delawarey River Joint Toll Bridge Commission March 19, 2020

River View Drone Footage 1 – Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission October 21, 2021

River View Drone Footage 2 – Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission October 21, 2021

Cambria Steel Company/Wikipedia Audio Article (major beams and girders of the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge were produced by the Cambria Steel Company)

The Story of the Cambria Iron Works (later renamed Cambria Steel Company)

Roadwaywiz, Westboud (YouTube)

Roadwaywiz Eastbound (YouTube)

Anchor House Ride 2013 – Part 3/John Hinton  (YouTube) – New Hope-Lambertville segment begins at 13:18 mark

New Hope Historical Society/John Weber 200th Anniversary Video (2014)

Bomboy, R. Scott Wooden Treasures; The Story of Bucks County’s Covered Bridges, Bridgetown Communications, 2022 (Print) 16-18, 19-20, 118-121

Dale, Frank T. Bridges over the Delaware River: A History of Crossings. Rutgers University Press, 2003 (Print), 21-28

Richman, Steven M. The Bridges of New Jersey: Portraits of Garden State Crossings. Rutgers University Press 2005 (Print) 58-59, 78-79

Shafer, Mary A. Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955 Word Forge Books 2005 (Print) 80-81, 250, 268, 315, 329, 370, 420

Shank, P.E., William H. Historic Bridges of Pennsylvania. American Canal & Transportation Center Eighth Printing, Fourth Edition 2004 (Print) 8

Allen, Richard Sanders Covered Bridges of the Northeast. Dover Publications, Inc. 2004 (Print) 90-91

Mastrich, James; Warren, Yvonne; Kline, George; Lambertville and New Hope. Arcadia Publishing 1996 (Print) Sections One, Four, Six

Christianson, Justin & Marston, Christopher H.; Covered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering. Historical American Engineering Record, National Park Service (Print) 105

Bridge Project Inquiry Form

The following form may be used for online inquiries for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission’s New Hope-Lambertville Toll-Supported Bridge Rehabilitation Project. Asterisk items are mandatory. Boxes marked are optional.