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WCBS 880 Special Series: Your Future Commute – No Pain, No Gain

Lincoln Tunnel Helix (credit: Google Maps/Google Earth)

Lincoln Tunnel Helix (credit: Google Maps/Google Earth)

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WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot is continuing his week-long look at Your Future Commute. Click here to see all of the segments thus far.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Making your commute smoother down the road requires pain now.

WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot On The Story


Today, we’re looking at the projects that’ll have you hitting your brakes.

“There’s several projects now underway that are going to make life hell and it’s started already,” John Cichowski, “Road Warrior” for The Record, told WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot as they drove along in New Jersey.

He has a list that will make your head spin and your wheels stop.

“You’ve got Route 3 that we just went through and as you go further eat, you’re going to hit Route 495, which takes you into the Lincoln Tunnel. The approach – the helix – is finally, after all these years, being changed and improved and at night they’re going do this work. The following year, they’re going to do the westbound side. So, that’s a good 24, 25, 26 months, even during the day because they’ll be putting up barricades and they’ll be changing the access,” he said. “One of the biggest projects in the history of the state will be the merge at Route 3 and Route 46. Roundabouts are going to be built to improve the traffic flow there.”

These major roadworks aren’t limited to New Jersey.

If you drive the Long Island Expressway, expect years of work on overpasses, starting this month at Hempstead Turnpike.

Drive the Sprain Brook Parkway? There will be three years of bridge work over Route 119.

On the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, there will be work at the Route 7 bridge in Norwalk.

On I-95, since they can’t make the road any bigger, the best they can do is improve the on-ramps.

David Fein at Total Traffic Network, the nerve center for traffic data, says it’s a lot.

“And those will cause delays. Hopefully, they’ll be a little less traffic when they’re done,” he said.

WCBS 880′s Wayne Cabot: When Good Intentions Go Wrong


We now rejoin Wayne Cabot and John Cichowski on Route 3, after having left the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton.

“Where are you taking me?” asked Cabot.

“I’m taking you over toward Route 3 in Lyndhurst and Rutherford, where they’re rebuilding the highway and building these huge huge huge soundwalls with windows on top of them,” Cichowski said.

“Really? What’s the point of that?” asked Cabot.

“No one really knows,” answered Cichowski.

There’s not cheap. Cichowski said they cost about $600,000 per mile more than they would if you didn’t have the windows.

“The reason they did it was that neighbors had complained that the sound walls would look ugly and so DOT came up with a way that’s been used in other places throughout the country and that’s to put plexiglass windows across the top of them, the top four feet,” said Cichowski.

After Cabot and Cichowski drove past, Cabot saw that the windows allow more light in, which is actually a problem.

“The sun creeps over the mountain and now shines through some of those windows. I get complaints from readers who say ‘Hey! It’s magnifying and I’m getting more glare than that I ever did and I can’t use this highway anymore,’” Cichowski said. “Of course, as the year changes, the angle of the sun will change. But it’s odd that they didn’t quite figure that out the first time around.”

So, while millions are being spent on soundwalls with windows, other projects are going begging.

“That includes improvements to 78, improvements to 31, improvements to Routes 1 and 9, expansions of rail service, expansions of bus service, potentially more park and rides,” said Matt Holt, Chairman of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. “Those are things that basically we can at least begin the process on in the next five years.”

That’s for New Jersey.

The latest New York and Long Island wish list adds up to almost $1 trillion, and since few politicians there touch the gas tax, except to raid the cash from it, the only answer is higher tolls and more tolls and they are coming.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about the upcoming tolls.