Delaware River Bridge Commission hatches peregrine falcon chick on I-95 bridge - A RAMBLE

August 13, 2008

The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) say they've had a peregrine falcon produce a chick in a nest in the underneath steelwork of their I-95 Scudder Falls Bridge. Once a seriously endangered species peregrine falcons are still rare with only 24 known nesting pairs in Pennsylvania.

"This peregrine falcon nest is a first for the Bridge Commission and it is another manifestation of the Delaware River's environmental rebirth," said Frank G McCartney, the DRJTBC's executive director in an announcement.

"We are very excited about this. We are working closely with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to shield this peregrine falcon family from disturbances during the fledgling period."

The chick was first spotted in June when it was about two weeks old. It has been fitted with ID bands by Pennsylvania wildlife officials. (PHOTO CREDIT: pictures of the falcons should be credited to Pennsylvania Game Commission who supplied them to DRJTBC who supplied them to TOLLROADSnews)

To safeguard the falcons whike they rear the chick the Bridge Commission will issue an operations order to staff liable to work near the bridge. And it will provide a training session so bridge employees understand the birds and can work around them.

Falcons are not to be messed with when they have a chick. The adult falcons can fiercely attack any creature coming within about 100 yards of their nest.

The DRJTBC chick is making short fluttering flights but it isn't yet much of a flyer, officials say.

Canadian heritage

These birds don't get much privacy afforded to their sex lives. Bird biologists have tracked the female that just produced the chick at Scudder Falls PA/NJ to a mating several years back in Hamilton Ontario, according to DRJTBC officials.

That's at the far western end of the 407ETR tollroad, we note.

Maybe she has a thing for the hospitality of tollers?

The Ohio Turnpike recently reported eagles nesting in one of their major bridges.

Scudder Falls Bridge

The DRJTBC I-95 Scudder Falls Bridge is called a "toll-supported bridge" in that it is an untolled bridge maintained by the revenues of tolled bridges of the DRJTBC. But you can't blame the falcons for not caring much for that subtle distinction.

The bridge carries an average 60k veh/day and the 2+2 lane stretch of the highway in the vicinity is heavily congested in peak hours because of the NJ29 interchange close by on the east bank, and inadequate merge/demerge lanes.

Projections suggest that traffic will grow 35% to 80k veh/day by 2030.

The existing bridge is a 4 lane steel plate girder bridge 530m (1740ft) in total length - longest span is 55m (180ft) - which opened in 1961. With an 18.3m (60ft) deck it has minimal shoulders/offsets from the parapets and divider.

DRJTBC plans to demolish the existing bridge and replace it with a bridge providing 3+3 travel lanes and three auxiliary lanes for NJ29 connections for a total of 9 travel lanes plus four full breakdown shoulders and a pedestrian/bicycle path. Hopefully this will be toll-financed with all-electronic tolling.

The larger bridge will, we presume, provide greatly enhanced bird nesting habitat!

This highway is presently a stub end of I-95 with no present prospect of being continued on its originally intended path to northern New Jersey and is due to be given a new route designation when - finally - an interchange is built between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-95 where they cross in the Bristol area in to the south. Then the Penn Pike east and the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension of the NJ Turnpike and the NJ Turnpike north will get the I-95 designation.

The I-95 stub and its Scudder Falls Bridge serves mainly as a belt route around the Trenton/Morrisville area and an alternate to US1.

see on future bridge

Hamilton area bridges

Actually in the Hamilton Ontario area the major bridge for bird nesting would be not 407ETR but an ex-toll bridge, the Burlington Bay Skyway Bridge on the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). A through-arch steel truss bridge (Sydney Harbor Bridge coathanger style) it crosses the entrance to the port of Hamilton and is part of the heavily trafficked route between Buffalo/Niagara NY and Toronto.

Opening as a toll bridge in 1958 the Skyway Bridge was sadly de-tolled at the end of 1973 after only 15 years of toll collection.


TOLLROADSnews 2008-08-13

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