Express bus lane — and crossing guards — to help Lincoln Tunnel commuters
The $90 million reconstruction project on the Interstate 495 bridge, the road leading into the Lincoln Tunnel from the Turnpike, officially began 9 p.m. Friday when lanes in each direction were closed.
But Monday is the first time commuters heading in and out of New York City will get stuck in what is expected to be severe congestion and delays.
According to Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, the state Department of Transportation commissioner, the rehabilitation work, which will take until 2021 to complete, will make an already difficult traffic situation much worse.
One thing that might help is the XBL, the exclusive bus lane, which will remain open for the entire project. The lane moves 1,850 buses every day, carrying 18.5 million every year.
Gutierrez-Scaccetti said keeping this lane operational is an effort “to be respectful of families who childcare arrangements, elder-care arrangements, that they can continue to have as normal a commute as possible.”
She also pointed out the 31st Street ramp leading to Route 495 westbound has been closed to most traffic.
NJ Transit buses are the only vehicles other than emergency responders that can proceed up that ramp from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. This is meant to minimize the impact to thousands of commuters who use the bus to get to work.
“We’re going to go through an adjustment period the next few weeks and we’ll continue to look at it and refine the best we can," she said.
Richard Turner, the mayor of Weehawken, is bracing for the worst.
He said law enforcement officials will be manning several key intersections for the duration of the project.
“We have to keep roads open for police, fire, ambulances and school buses. We can’t have gridlock," he said.
The densely populated Hudson County township is going to make sure that even crossing guards know to keep intersections clear in order to avoid traffic jams.
He said having this type of project in their backyard is going to cause terrible congestion, no matter what they do.
“We’re going to take whatever measures we have to take the residents safe. We have no choice; we’ll do whatever we have to do.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com