Anyone who has ever made the drive from New Jersey to the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan is familiar with the road connecting Route 495 to the tunnel, a cascading 4,000-foot-long roadway loop nicknamed the Helix, as Mike Frassinelli writes for The Star-Ledger. The elderly Helix is being rehabilitated as part of an $88 million construction project on Route 495 East in Weehawken. The work includes repairing sections of the concrete deck and milling, and repaving the entire riding surface, Frassinelli reports.
Originally carved through a wall of rock during the Great Depression in the 20th Century, the Helix, with its dramatic view of the Manhattan skyline, brings tens of millions of vehicles every year to the mile-and-a-half-long Lincoln tunnel that connects NJ with New York City.
A MetroFocus article on Thirteen.org relates more of the Helix’s history:
When the helix opened in 1938, a year after the opening of the Lincoln Tunnel, it was hailed as an engineering marvel. The Hudson Dispatch called it “one of the most praiseworthy masterpieces of architecture in the United States.” Drivers no longer had to join local traffic in downtown Weehawken on their way to and from the Lincoln Tunnel.
Frassinelli visited the construction site one night and provides a firsthand description of how the roadway has aged:
There are so many craters, Buzz Aldrin would feel at home on it. The concrete median barrier is crumbling like a chocolate chip cookie. Steel supports below the Helix are deteriorating from the weight of some of the 40 million vehicles a year that use the Lincoln, one of the busiest tunnels in the world.
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners approved the repair project in November of 2011, Truckingnifo.com writes. Preliminary work began in March, and will be completed between 2013 and 2014, according to Port Authority of NY & NJ’s “The Helix Fix” page. The roadway will be closed during off-peak, nighttime hours so that construction workers can do their jobs. The Lincoln Tunnel will remain open; but traffic will be detoured.
Port Authority suggests drivers consult 511 New Jersey and 511 New York websites for regional traffic and transit information on alternate routes, and consider mass transit options such as the PATH and NJ Transit.
Frassinelli notes that a clever advertisement on subways and in print media shows a photo of Abe Lincoln bowling, with the words: “We’re giving Lincoln the night off. You should, too.”
Judy Pokras has been a professional journalist for more than a decade, and has written for The New York Times and the Daily Record. Judy is currently the lead blogger for a Colorado accident law firm the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen. Connect with Judy on Google+.