Pulaski Skyway Shutdown Begins [AUDIO]
At the stroke of midnight Saturday, the northbound lanes of the Pulaski Skyway leading into the Holland Tunnel were shut down-- and will remain so during two years of rehab work.
The southbound lanes that lead back into the Garden State remain open.
During a news conference in Jersey City, Simpson said the $1 billion project is absolutely necessary because the span is literally crumbling.
"Simply put, we're out of time," Simpson said. "If we don't do this now, we literally might wake up one morning and find ourselves facing an emergency closure of the entire bridge. In fact, we have had some emergency closures in the last couple of years. In report card terms, as the engineers like to say sometimes, this bridge is a D-minus and about to become an F, and an F is failure."
The commissioner said the Pulaski Skyway is actually in worse condition right now than the I-35 Bridge in Minnesota that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people.
"It has been officially designated as structurally deficient since 1983," he said. "Thirty-one years we've had a structurally deficient bridge with nothing being done about it but putting Band-Aids on it."
In order to ease traffic congestion during the project, Simpson said "thousands of extra seats have been added to rail, bus and ferry services, and we really need motorists to switch to these modes or travel off-peak, or if that's not suitable, then just expect longer travel times by driving."
According to Simpson, New Jersey Transit has increased morning and evening peak period capacity on the Morris and Essex line, Raritan Valley and North Jersey Coastline trains. The Port Authority will also increase the frequency of PATH trains departing from Newark Penn Station, adding 6,000 seats for the morning rush.
He also stressed those who need to continue driving to work should adjust their drive times to avoid the morning peak, if at all possible.
"A primary alternate route will be the Turnpike extension between 14 and 14C, where the shoulder has been reinforced to accommodate a third lane of traffic during the morning and evening peak periods," Simpson said.
Even with all of these plans in place, he said it is going to be a major hassle, and commuters will have to endure longer trips to get to where they're going.