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Commission opens new Delaware River crossing for walkers, bicyclists, sightseers

by Lori Goldstein

On November 16th the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) opened the eagerly anticipated Scudder Falls Shared-Use Path, a multi-faceted crossing point for pedestrians, bicyclists and sightseers.

A 1,587-foot-long walkway on the upstream span of the Scudder Falls Bridge, the new pathway makes it the only river link in the Commission’s 20-bridge system that meets Federal Highway Authority criteria, allowing bicyclists to pedal without dismounting. The facility provides a direct connection between the recreational towpaths along the Delaware & Raritan Canal in New Jersey and the Delaware Canal in Pennsylvania.

The Commission has committed to operating and maintaining the facility’s various components and nearby Commission-owned wetland areas in perpetuity. The Commission is a self-supporting public-service agency that receives neither federal nor state tax dollars to finance its projects or operations. Funding for the operations, maintenance and upkeep of its bridges and related transportation facilities is solely derived from revenues collected at its toll bridges. 

“This collection of parcels were the building blocks of our vision for what could be accomplished, providing a seamless connection to the Delaware Canal towpath, across the river to the Delaware & Raritan Canal towpath, linking pedestrians and bicyclists with an amenity that has become essential to those who use this area for exercise, recreation activities, experiencing nature, or reflection,” said DRJTBC Executive Director Joe Resta. 

The Shared-Use Path includes an access ramp and concrete path extension to the D&R Feeder Canal towpath on the New Jersey side, an access ramp to the Delaware Canal towpath on the Pennsylvania side, as well as four scenic overlooks on the bridge walkway, access ramps, and a pedestrian bridge to facilitate safe crossings over the Delaware Canal. 

The 1799 House, a former stone residence, has been adaptively re-used to serve as a trailhead comfort station near the Delaware Canal towpath. There are also benches and a bicycle rack outside the 1799 House. An interpretive display consisting of one granite block and a bearing from the first Scudder Falls Bridge, constructed in 1959 and removed from service in 2019 may be seen near the House. A 127-space park-n-ride lot is situated near the intersection of Taylorsville and Woodside Roads in Lower Makefield. 

The Shared-Use Path was opened to the public after a ceremony at the Commission’s office campus on the Pennsylvania side of the Scudder Falls Toll Bridge. The ceremonial ribbon was cut by Anne Scudder Smith, a ninth-generation descendant of early Ewing Township settler Richard Betts Scudder and the granddaughter of John Montgomery Scott, who cut the opening-day ribbon on the first Scudder Falls Bridge in June 1961.

Yardley Police Chief Joe Kelly led the Pledge of Allegiance and Ewing High School’s Mastersingers choir sang the national anthem. Welcome messages were given by Mayor Bert Steinmann of Ewing Township, NJ, and Lower Makefield Supervisor John Lewis.

The featured bicyclists at the event were from the Anchor House Foundation’s “Ride for Runaway,” an annual long-distance fund-raising ride that often crosses a Commission bridge walkway.  The Anchor House riders were Director Kathy Drulis and co-chairs DeWayne Tolbert and Laura Carlson. Since 1978, the Ride for Runaways has raised over $9.5 million in funds for a shelter in Trenton to keep kids and their families safe.

“Today provides an opportunity to specifically highlight portions of a larger project where the results are obvious and impactful for generations to come,” said Resta.

PHOTO CAP: DRJTBC Commissioners cut the ceremonial ribbon with Anne Scudder Smith. Pictured from left are Daniel H. Grace, secretary; Yuki Moore Laurenti, Treasurer; Anne Scudder Smith; Pamela Janvey, Vice Chair; and Aladar G Komjathy.

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