Getting into Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel is about to become much more difficult for many New Jersey motorists thanks to a long-term bridge-repair project that is set to ramp up this month.
State transportation officials are warning drivers to prepare for major delays in and around the tunnel as crews rehabilitate a Route 495 bridge that spans Routes 1 and 9 and Paterson Plank Road in North Bergen.
In fact, the Department of Transportation didn’t mince words in a recent announcement that detailed the upcoming traffic disruptions, issuing a candid warning to motorists that they will see “severe congestion and delays for (the) next two-and-a-half years.”
The disruptions and delays are because of a major rehab of a span known as the Route 495 Viaduct. The bridge is 80 years old and has been rated as structurally deficient, according to the DOT, which is overseeing the work. The $90 million project began about a year ago, but the big headaches for motorists are expected to begin in earnest this month with long-term lane closures starting on both August 10 and 17.
Built in 1938, the Route 495 Viaduct is considered to be functionally obsolete even as it continues to serve as a major roadway linking the New Jersey Turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel. Initial repair work started in September 2017, and it has included improvements in the surrounding area to local streets that are now expected to carry more traffic as the bridge reconstruction begins.
The project’s first major and long-term lane closure is scheduled for August 10 when crews will shut down the 31st Street ramp from Kennedy Boulevard to Route 495 westbound. A week later, one lane of Route 495 traffic in each direction will also be closed. In all, the work is expected to last through summer 2021, according to the DOT.
The project will involve repairing and reconstructing the bridge’s deck and replacing and strengthening deteriorated structural steel, the DOT said. The bridge’s substructure will also be repaired and repainted. The work is expected to extend the life of the bridge by another 75 years and prevent the need for even more disruptive emergency repairs if the structure’s condition worsened.
Still, like DOT, NJ Transit is warning its customers about the potential for severe congestion once the Route 495 lane closures take effect. “Buses may encounter conditions that result in significant delays in the outbound direction during both the morning and evening peak periods,” the agency said.
To help keep the public up to date as the work progresses on the Route 495 bridge, the DOT has set up a. It is also planning to use electronic signs to make sure motorists are aware of all traffic-pattern changes. Motorists are also being encouraged to monitor the DOT's .
Perhaps one bright spot for motorists who may be looking to use the Holland Tunnel as an alternative way into Manhattan is the recent reopening of the Pulaski Skyway to all traffic in both directions. That bridge, which links Newark with Jersey City, recently underwent a $1 billion rehab, a project that was also administered by the DOT.