Rehabilitation activities at the Northampton Street Bridge (Easton-Phillipsburg ‘Free Bridge’) are now set to shift to the bridge’s downstream side on or about August 8, according to the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
The plan is to shift all vehicular traffic to the bridge’s upstream side at that time, with New Jersey-bound traffic restricted to the center lane and Pennsylvania-bound traffic restricted to the upstream lane.
The new upstream travel configuration would remain in effect into late October.
The commission warns that traffic backups and travel delays can occur at any time. Restricted-travel conditions are expected to continue into November. at this bridge from now until late November.
To mitigate travel delays, manual control of traffic signals at both ends of the bridge are in effect 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. weekdays.
Motorists using the bridge are urged to allow additional time to reach their destinations and avoid peak-period travel at the bridge whenever possible.
This rehabilitation and improvement project at the agency’s iconic Northampton Street Bridge between Easton, PA, and Phillipsburg, N.J. is expected to take place between late 2021 and mid-2023. The bridge is colloquially referred to as the “free bridge” to distinguish it from the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge (previously the Bushkill Street Bridge) a short distance upstream. The Northampton Street Bridge was last rehabilitated nearly 20 years ago.
The project’s core objective is to extend the 125-year-old bridge’s useful life, mitigating major repairs that could necessitate protracted bridge closures for at least 15 years.
An engineering firm – GPI/Greenman Pederson, Inc. of Lebanon, N.J. – completed the multi-faceted project’s design work in mid-2021 — which happened to be the 100th anniversary of the year the former privately-owned tolled crossing was freed of tolls. The states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey jointly purchased the bridge from the former Easton Delaware Bridge Company on Aug. 3, 1921 — a transaction facilitated by the former Joint Commission for Elimination of Toll Bridges across the Delaware River.
Rehabilitation work at the bridge is expected to take place on the structure, below the structure, and in the vicinity of the masonry abutments at both ends of the bridge. The Commission is seeking to have the project construction activities staged in a manner to alleviate travel impacts, such as preventing disruptions of Pennsylvania-bound travel that would force motorists to make tolled crossings of the nearby Easton-Phillipsburg (Route 22) Toll Bridge.
In September 2021, the Commission unanimously awarded the project’s construction contract to low-bidder J.D. Eckman, Inc. of Atglen, PA for a not-to-exceed amount of $15,487,427.50.
Early preparation activities began in November 2021 and continued into early 2022. Full weekday project activities ramped up in March. An uninterrupted closure of the bridge’s upstream lane began after Easter. This initial around-the-clock travel restriction is expected to continue to the end of July. The second of three continuous travel patterns — single lanes in each direction — would then begin and remain in place into October.