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Possible replacement of historic Washington Crossing Bridge leaves drivers with mixed reactions

Drivers react to possible timeline and upgrades of Washington Crossing Bridge
Drivers react to possible timeline and upgrades of Washington Crossing Bridge 02:10

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) -- The Washington Crossing Bridge is nearly 120 years old, and it's a tight squeeze, to say the least, to cross it.

"Narrow, very narrow," said Cindy Carlin, who drives over the bridge about twice a week. "I'm clinching as I'm driving over like that's going to help."

"Very small and there's people that don't know how to drive across it," said Grace Collins, who drives over the bridge three times a week.

The Washington Crossing Bridge stretches over the Delaware River connecting the historic parks in Hopewell Township, New Jersey, and Upper Makefield Township, Pennsylvania.

The bridge is also the scene of many minor crashes, with only inches to spare between cars. The single lane in each direction is 7.5 feet wide. It's 12 feet wide on a typical interstate highway lane.

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"I've had kids that work here in the summer that are 18 and just got their license, and they come in and say my mirror got hit," Collins said.

"You always see dead mirrors laying on the road where they've been hit because it's so narrow," Carlin said.

"It was not designed for modern vehicles, certainly not designed for an SUV," said Joe Resta, the executive director of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, which owns and operates the bridge.

According to Resta, the bridge carried an average of 7,200 cars across each day in 2023.

The bridge also has a three-ton weight limit, and signs are posted leading up to the entrance. The commission said more than 2,000 oversized vehicles were turned away last year, but many tractor trailers ignored the signage and still went over.

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With the traffic volume, functionality and deterioration, the commission posted a request for a proposal in January to begin the process of a possible bridge replacement.

"A lot of the work that has to be done hasn't even commenced yet," Resta said. "The bridge itself, to invest a good amount of money in and still only have a 15-foot wide bridge seems a little bit not forward thinking enough."

An environmental study and assessment will need to be done, and it's still very early in the process. Drivers have mixed feelings about building a new bridge.

"I think it should be bigger because so many people use it," Collins said.

"It's not bad, but I'm not looking forward to a new bridge if they tear down this bridge first," Henry Dauber said.

The commission said it hopes to award a contract to a consulting team in June.

That will get the ball rolling, but there are many hoops to go through and the possibility of building a new bridge is likely several years away.

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