The course of the Delaware River.
This is a list of bridges over the Delaware River in the United States. The Delaware River is a 674 kilometer long river in the east of the country, flowing through the states of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. The river is known for its large estuary on which the city of Philadelphia is located.
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge between Philadelphia and Camden.
The Delaware River originates in the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York and initially has two branches, which meet at Hancock, New York and then form the Delaware River. From here the river forms the border between Pennsylvania and New York and leads through a narrow and winding valley. The river is largely no wider than 50 to 100 meters on this part. The first larger urban core on the river is Port Jervis, New York and Matamoras, Pennsylvania, which are opposite each other. From this point, the river forms the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
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The river then flows southwest through sparsely populated wilderness to the Delaware Water Gap, a narrow canyon in the ridges near Stroudsburg. South of this, the area becomes more cultivated and then urbanized, the river flowing past Easton, the first proper town on the river. The river is 100 meters wide here, the Lehigh River flows into the Delaware River here. The river then flows south-southeast, still forming the Pennsylvania-New Jersey border. The area here is becoming more built-up, with suburbs far from Philadelphia and around the city of Trenton.
From Trenton, the Delaware River widens a lot, almost 300 meters. The river is already practically at sea level here. After Trenton, the river bends southwest and then flows through the large metropolitan area of Philadelphia. The river is getting wider here, at the height of Philadelphia the river is 500 to 600 meters wide. The banks are industrialized. After Philadelphia, the river is 1 to 1.5 kilometers wide. On the south side of Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River flows into the Delaware River, which actually forms a seawater estuary at this point.
At its most downstream portion, the river forms a broad estuary that forms the border between the state of Delaware and New Jersey. The river is two kilometers wide at Wilmington. This is also where the last two bridges over the river, the Delaware Memorial Bridge, are located. Further south, the estuary widens to such an extent that the lake takes on the character of an open sea and forms Delaware Bay, which is over 40 kilometers wide at its widest point between Delaware and New Jersey. The connection to the open ocean follows at Cape May.
The Delaware River has a relatively narrow basin and does not have many major tributaries, the most important being the Lehigh River and the Schuylkill River, both of which flow into the Delaware River from Pennsylvania.
The average flow rate at Trenton is 340 m³/s, making it a relatively small river. The river is little regulated, there are no weirs or dams controlling the discharge. It is therefore one of the few major rivers in the United States that still largely has a natural course. The river is therefore vulnerable to flooding, especially due to snowmelt and when ex-hurricanes pass through the area. However, the banks of the Delaware River are relatively sparsely populated on the naturally flowing part. Easton is the only city of size directly on the river and is therefore vulnerable to flooding. In the much more populous regions of Trenton and Philadelphia, the river is already at sea level so flooding has almost no impact here.
The Delaware River as a waterway
Since 1885, the Delaware River estuary has been kept deep enough for large ocean-going vessels. There is intensive shipping in the estuary, especially from the open sea to Philadelphia and Camden, but occasionally further north to near Trenton. Trenton itself has no port facilities, the river is too shallow here, but just south of Trenton are industrial complexes that do have port facilities. The ports of Wilmington, Chester, Philadelphia and Camden have a combined throughput of 100 million tons.
However, the river itself has no shipping. All shipping takes place on the part that falls under the estuary, these are actually sea ports and not river ports.
Philadelphia is one of the oldest and most important cities on the American East Coast, so early bridges were built across the river. The river is very wide at Philadelphia, which is why the first bridges were built at Trenton. Trenton is the capital of the state of New Jersey. The first bridge over the Delaware River was the Lower Trenton Bridge which opened in 1806. Another old bridge across the lower reaches was the Yardley–Wilburtha Bridge in Trenton which opened in 1835 as a wooden toll bridge. The oldest road bridge still in use is the Calhoun Street Bridge in Trenton which opened in 1884.
Several railroad bridges were built over the Delaware River in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The oldest surviving railroad bridge over the Delaware River in Philadelphia is the 1896 Delair Bridge. Road traffic increased in the 20th century, leading to the construction of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, an imposing 1926 suspension bridge in Philadelphia. Most of the other bridges date from the 1950s and 1960s. One of the most famous bridges is the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which was built in two phases, in 1951 and 1968. The most recent bridge over the lower reaches of the Delaware River is the 1976 Betsy Ross Bridge.
The bridges over the lower reaches of the Delaware River are all toll bridges. The toll is in most cases only levied westward (Pennsylvania/Delaware).
The toll road authorities are;
- Delaware River and Bay Authority
- Delaware River Port Authority
- Burlington County Bridge Commission
- Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission
List of bridges over the Delaware River
The iconic Delaware Memorial Bridge, the most downstream bridge.
The list runs upstream to Trenton.
|Delaware Memorial Bridge||3291 m||655 m||suspension bridge||2×4||1951 / 1968|
|Commodore Barry Bridge||4240 m||501 m||truss bridge||1×5||1974|
|Walt Whitman Bridge||3652 m||610 m||suspension bridge||3+4||1957|
|Benjamin Franklin Bridge||2918 m||533 m||suspension bridge||3+4||1926|
|Betsy Ross Bridge||2586 m||222 m||truss bridge||2×3||1976|
|Tacony-Palmyra Bridge||1115 m||159 m||arch bridge||2+1||1929|
|Burlington-Bristol Bridge||701 m||165 m||lift bridge||1×2||1931|
|Delaware River – Turnpike Toll Bridge||2058 m||208 m||arch bridge||2×2||1954|
|Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge||404 m||?||girder bridge||2×3||1952|
|Lower Trenton Bridge||312 m||?||truss bridge||1×2||1928|
|Calhoun Street Bridge||388 m||?||truss bridge||1×2||1884|
|Scudder Falls Bridge||530 m||55 m||girder bridge||2×2||1961|