Time for traffic problems in North Jersey: 495 project begins
New Jersey’s next commuter nightmare is about to begin. From the looks of things, it’s going to be a real doozy.
Starting 9 p.m. Friday, the state Department of Transportation will begin a $90 million rehabilitation effort on the Route 495 bridge between the New Jersey Turnpike and the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
The project, which calls for a lane in each direction on the 80-year-old bridge to be closed, is expected to cause traffic gridlock for the next two and a half years.
“This bridge is in need of significant repair to the deck and to the structural steel, and it cannot wait any longer,” said Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, the commissioner of the DOT.
“Although three out of the four lanes will remain open, we expect severe congestion during the construction period," she said.
About 60 to 100 workers will be on the job day and night, but certain work will not be performed overnight because it would cause noise issues in surrounding communities.
She said commuters are being urged to consider alternative routes.
“If you can leave earlier or perhaps later to avoid the peak congestion in the morning and afternoon, obviously that’s advisable if you can work that out with your employer,” she said.
“It’s not always easy, but if there’s the opportunity for any of our commuters to either tele-commute or work flexible hours we continue to encourage that.”
Drivers can use the George Washington Bridge or the Holland Tunnel to get into the Big Apple.
Those traveling from south or central New Jersey can use the Goethals Bridge to get to the Staten Island Expressway and the Verrazano Bridge to the Battery Tunnel.
“There’s a 12-mile HOV lane there that’s meant to encourage people to carpool,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.
Another option is to get on a boat. Ferry terminals are in Monmouth and Hudson counties.
The Hudson-Bergen Light Raid connects to PATH stations and ferries in Union City, Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City.
Gutierrez-Scaccetti said 136 parking spaces have been added to the park-and-ride lot in North Bergen. Another park-and-ride option is at the Vince Lombardi rest area on the Turnpike.
She said new digital message signs have been installed along surrounding highways with real-time travel updates “to give commuters the best opportunity to find a successful route.”
The exclusive bus lane in the Lincoln Tunnel will remain open during the entire project.