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August 8, 2018
New Jersey Department of Transportation to Perform Major Construction on Lincoln Tunnel

The New Jersey Department of Transportation has deemed the 80-year-old Lincoln Tunnel to be structurally deficient and functionally obsolete which led to the initiation of a $90 million project to extend the bridge’s life by 75 years. The work being done during this project will shore up the bridge and replace the roadway deck on Route 495.

The Department has instructed the construction crew to close one lane in each direction on Route 495 that connects the New Jersey Turnpike to the Lincoln Tunnel starting August 17, 2018. An entrance ramp onto Route 495 west will be closed a week earlier by August 10, 2018. 

The duration of this project is going to be a little more than 2 years and is expected to lead to “severe congestion” in terms of traffic. It’s already one of the worst bottlenecks on the East Coast and it will become more challenging when the lanes are closed 24 hours a day. According to the Department’s website, the tunnel work cannot be performed solely during the night because the nature of the bridge makes it impossible to replace portions each night and then allow traffic back during the day. 

Over 150,000 motorists use the Lincoln Tunnel daily and will now be subjected to find alternative routes. The New Jersey Department of Transportation recommends commuters to travel at off-peak times and consider using public transportation. 

The Department has set up a series of detours for vehicles that need to exit off Route 495 to Routes 1&9 north and south, however, those detours and the anticipated migration of cars seeking shortcuts, is expected to increase traffic in the cramped side streets of towns along Route 495.

No additional trains are expected to be added on either NJ Transit or PATH Lines, even though thousands of drivers and bus commuters are likely to escape to the rails. In fact, NJ Transit will be implementing the federally mandated positive train control and suspending off-peak direct service to Penn Station on the Raritan Valley Line beginning in September.

New York Waterways said its ferries have room for more commuters at all 10 terminals in Bergen, Hudson, and Monmouth counties. During rush hour, ferries are every 10 minutes and otherwise every 20 minutes. 

Advice for Travelers:
Avoid traffic by taking public transportation instead of driving your own vehicle. If people continue to use as many vehicles as they do currently, the traffic will worsen exponentially.
With the closure of one lane in each direction, use an alternative route to work to avoid the tunnel traffic. You may benefit from traveling at off-peak hours and leaving earlier than usual as other drivers will also be looking to use these routes.

Commuters may want to get the combined Go Pass which can be used on the ferries and the Hudson Bergen Light Rail along with a few NJ Transit buses. Regular commuters will also benefit from leaving earlier as more people would choose to use public transportation, leading to overpacked trains and delayed buses. 

Travelers from Pennsylvania entering New York City via the Lincoln Tunnel taking Route 495, once they get off Interstate 95, can opt to take the Holland Tunnel.

Travelers taking international and domestic flights from major airports, such as: Newark Int’l Liberty Airport, J.F.K. Airport, or LaGuardia Airport, should leave a couple of hours earlier than usual as the traffic is subject to fluctuate and you do not want to be late for the flight. You may want to finish checking-in prior to arriving at the airport and bring carry-on items to avoid getting caught in long lines when you are running late because of traffic.

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The content of this edition of AssistAlert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace further investigation or personal observations. If you are planning travel, or are traveling in or proximate to the locations identified in this newsletter, you are encouraged to contact SecurAssist for additional information.

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