Delaware Mem Bridge Tolls Up
By Peter Samuel
The Delaware Memorial Bridges (DMB) tolls went up 10pm April 30, the regular car toll going from $2 to $3. Trucks went from $2.50 to $3/axle, so an 18-wheeler now has a $15 toll. Frequent users continue to get the same heavily discounted tolls, as the bridges revenues depend principally on longdistance and occasional users. The DMB connects the Delaware and New Jersey turnpikes with a pair of near identical 4-lane suspension spans. It tolls southbound or westbound NJ-DE.
The Delaware River and Bay Auth (DRBA) which runs the bridge sold the toll increase as essential to its capital program. It also said it was bringing its tolls more into line with competitive bridges upstream that are run by the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA). The Port Auth raised tolls on its four Philadelphia are bridges Jan 3 in conjunction with the start of electronic tolling. Its car tolls (westbound-only) went from $2.50 to $3.00 but its truck tolls went up from $3/axle to $4.50/axle making an 18-wheeler $22.50 vs $15 before.
Truckers are responsive to a differential like that going from $2.50 to $10 especially as between the closest, the Commodore Barry bridge and the Delaware Mem Br. DMB truck traffic which had been about 5% up on a year ago suddenly was bobbing around in the range 7 to 11% ahead of the year earlier.
Curtis Esposito, DMB director says the increase in truck traffic did not cause any noticeable problems because peak trucking time is around 11am to 2pm, just when car traffic is at its lightest. The toll increase to $3/axle for trucks will leave a substantial differential - $7.50 - but the frenzied growth is likely to drop away, Esposito expects.
The DMB is in the middle of modernizing its toll system and is working to become an active E-ZPass operator later this year. It has only a small native commuter base of its own to justify ET, and no operational need or desire to speed toll plaza throughput. But it is surrounded by toll facilities with E-ZPass either operating, or just months away from fire-up. Less than an hours drive to the north are the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes, the Burlington co bridges, and the Atlantic City Expressway, and to the south the Delaware Turnpike and MDTA toll facilities. Good customer relations alone justify joining the ET club.