It was on Oct. 12, 1920 that the ground breaking for the Holland Tunnel took place. While the price of the tolls and the amount of congestion make it the bane of many commuters’ lives, it was an engineering marvel of its time. It was planned and built by the New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission and the New York State Bridge and Tunnel Commission.

The two agencies bickered over who would pay for what and, with construction delays, the tunnel did not open until seven years later on Nov. 12, 1927. In 1930, operation of the tunnel was assumed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The tunnel is not named for the country of Holland, instead it is named for its’ lead engineer, Clifford M. Holland, who died before the tunnel was completed.

It was the first Hudson River vehicle crossing, linking Jersey City to Canal Street in Manhattan. One of the more noteworthy engineering accomplishments was the ventilation system; with cars packing the 1.6 mile tunnel, recycling the air was a must. This problem was solved by the construction of four ventilation towers, housing 84 fans that provide fresh air. The Holland Tunnel was the first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel.

When it first opened, the toll was 50 cents going in both directions; it was estimated that the tunnel would be paid off in ten years. It was in 1970 that they stopped collecting tolls from New Jersey bound drivers. It was announced in 2019 that the tunnel (along with the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge) would be removing the toll booths to go to “open tolling” where drivers are either billed via EZ Pass or by mailing bills via license plate readers.

Since its opening, over 1 billion vehicles have passed through the Holland Tunnel.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.