Will Route 495 bridge construction get worse? Union City prepares
A couple of weeks ago, officials were expecting huge delays at the Lincoln Tunnel as a $90 million reconstruction project on the road that leads into the Tunnel left two lanes closed, one in each direction.
While traffic has been a bit heavier than normal at the Tunnel, predictions of terrible congestion have not materialized.
But now that the Labor Day weekend is over, Hudson County is bracing for a new round of traffic trouble.
Union City Police Chief Richard Molinari said his municipality is one of the most densely populated city in the United States with more than 66,000 residents (not including commuters passing through) in 1.3 square miles. And with people now back from summer vacation and school beginning on Thursday, they’ve prepared for the worse and are hoping for the best.
“I don’t think there’s a school in this area — Union City, North Bergen, Weehawken, West New York — that won’t be impacted. Parents have to take their kids to school, school buses are going to be on the roads,” he said.
“We have over 14,000 school kids in Union City alone, so we know there’s going to be an impact. It’s just going to take parents a little bit of time to get used to where those adjustments are going to have to be made," he said.
"When you take people off the highway and you put them on local roads because they’re looking for an alternative, it severely impacts us.”
To try to make sure traffic keeps moving, off-duty officers will be brought in during the morning and the afternoon rush.
“It’s going to ensure that we can keep key intersections open. Maintaining these intersections is going to be critical for emergency vehicles that need to go north and south,” he said.
“Also, you have people coming out of their homes, coming out of their driveways or their parking spot. They’re going to come down half a block and they’re going to be negatively impacted.”
The rehabilitation work being done on the stretch of road known as the 495 Bridge, between the Turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel, won’t be completed until 2021.
Transportation officials are calling on motorists to not block the box, which is when cars stop at red lights in the middle of intersections, and they are keeping the exclusive bus lane open for the entire project, which they say will help to minimize delays for more than 18 million travelers a year that go into and out of New York City.
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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com