Are you ignoring the bitter political vitriol of this presidential campaign season?
Managing to avoid the discomforts of record-setting summer heat?
Well, if you’re a commuter, here’s another little challenge you may enjoy: how about a daily, 5-mile backup at the George Washington Bridge each morning for the next three months?
Starting Saturday, according to a report in NorthJersey.com, a major road repair project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, which spans the Harlem River on the east side of Manhattan, will likely create massive morning rush hour delays on the New Jersey side.
Traffic snarls are expected on Routes 80 and 95, as well as other approach roads and on nearby side streets as drivers seek alternate routes throughout eastern Bergen County.
Adding to the fun, the $409 million bridge project is followed, about a month later, by a Port Authority overnight closure of the corkscrew-shaped “helix” that feeds into North Jersey’s other major Hudson River crossing, the Lincoln Tunnel. In August, the Port Authority will begin its first major repair in 70 years on this section of Route 495 in Weehawken. The GW Bridge project is likely to shift additional morning traffic south to the tunnel. However, the Port Authority has limited repair work on the helix to between 10:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weeknights so the busy roadway can be reopened in time for the morning commute.
The 36,000 eastbound vehicles that cross the George Washington between 6 and 10 a.m., are not so fortunate.
Officials note that the work on the Alexander Hamilton will extend that bridge’s life another 75 years.
State transportation agencies in New York and New Jersey said commuters should anticipate significant delays and consider alternate routes. “It’s hard to estimate what the direct impacts will be on roadways beforehand,” said New Jersey Transportation Department spokesman Timothy Greeley. “But certainly, we are preparing as if the work will have impacts here in New Jersey to ensure that we are ready if that’s the case.”
Jeffrey M. Zupan, senior transportation fellow at the Regional Plan Association, said transportation agencies in New Jersey should embark on a “very strong campaign” to alert drivers in the coming days.
“It’s hard to think of a stretch of highway that would be more impacted by maintenance,” he said, calling the
14-lane George Washington Bridge “the single most heavily traveled highway link in the metropolitan area.”
The project is likely to significantly increase ridership on bus and train connections from New Jersey to the
city. Transportation officials see this development as positive, introducing drivers to the convenience of mass
transportation alternatives into Gotham.