NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Lincoln Tunnel was back open Wednesday night, but delays persisted hours after the outbound tunnel was closed due to a truck debris spill.
By 8:30 p.m., delays finally seemed to be easing, according to CBS New York Traffic.
The dump truck spilled its entire load of rocks and debris on the New Jersey helix at Interstate 495 just before 3 p.m., according to a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The tunnel was completely shut down for more than an hour, but both tubes had reopened as of shortly after 4:40 p.m. The outbound tube reopened just after 4 p.m., after the debris was cleared.
“They’ve cleaned up the helix, both our maintenance crews as well as the New Jersey Turnpike’s maintenance crews. They worked quickly out there to get all the debris off the roadway and that allowed us to get the tunnel reopened quickly,” Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman told WCBS 880.
Still, 60- to 90-minute delays were reported in the outbound tunnel, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported. On Ninth Avenue at 5 p.m., traffic only moved half a block in a period of a minute or two, Schneider reported.
Delays still persisted as late as 8 p.m.
The shutdown caused major gridlock on the West Side between Eighth and Eleventh avenues from the 20s to the 60s, 1010 WINS traffic reported. The gridlock continued well after the tunnel reopened.
Motorists were frustrated by the gridlock.
“That’s not typical. I’m usually home by now. I don’t know what’s going on upfront,” said motorist Mirza Katideen.
“There’s no traffic, bumper to bumper, for the past 40 minutes,” added Kate Philippo.
“Aggravation, and a lot of time wasted here,” said Mino Suarez.
“My wife is waiting for me someplace, and she really doesn’t know where I am,” said Leonard Epstein.
Motorists used the George Washington Bridge and the Holland Tunnel as alternatives, causing traffic jams leading to both. Tractor trailers were also being allowed to use the Holland Tunnel to leave town, 1010 WINS reported.
Buses also had problems. All the buses out of the Port Authority Terminal were subject to 90-minute delays, Schneider reported.
NJ TRANSIT was prepared for that in advance.
“This actually impacts up to 50,000 customers that utilize the Lincoln Tunnel on NJ TRANSIT buses each and every day,” NJ TRANSIT spokesman John Durso Jr. told WCBS 880.
NJ TRANSIT was cross-honoring its bus tickets on NJ TRANSIT trains to help alleviate the crush.
The NY Waterway ferry service from West 39th Street to Weehawken and Hoboken was also suggested as an alternative.
“There’s going to be residual delays,” said Durso.
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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)