NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Major delays were expected Saturday night on the George Washington Bridge, as police closed three of the four upper lanes in both directions for repairs.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the closures were necessary as part of the upper-level deck replacement project.
Three lanes were closed in both directions on the upper level at 10 p.m. on Saturday and will remain closed through Sunday at 10 a.m, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported. The lower level will be open.
The Port Authority said the closures will allow crews to replace critical steel deck panels on the current deck, “significantly minimizing the chances of another emergency closure of the bridge during the holidays.”
On Friday, Robert Sinclair with AAA New York called the lanes closures this weekend bad timing. He said 27 percent of the nation will be on the roads this weekend traveling for the holidays.
“About 5.2 million from New York State will be traveling and more a half million of those will be traveling by motor vehicle,” he said.
Emergency repairs have snarled traffic on the GWB at least three times in a month. The latest incident happened on Monday when crews were forced to replace a steel decking and joint plates.
Those repairs came less than a week after emergency repairs on the bridge closed outbound lanes.
Last month, two inbound upper lanes of the bridge were closed overnight after problems with an expansion joint there resulted in a 4-foot-by-4-foot section of concrete crumbling away.
Gridlock from the bridge has been impacting drivers who don’t even take the GWB, heading south into midtown Manhattan and north into the Bronx.
In Washington Heights, residents told 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten that the closure on the upper level is forcing trucks onto local streets, causing even more traffic.
“The traffic backup goes back all the way to like 183rd, sometimes down to 175th. It can get pretty bad. I’ve seen a lot of trucks stopping in the crossroads and oh my god that backup is ridiculous,” Washington Heights resident Sam said.
The Port Authority says it wasn’t prepared for the emergency closures. It was forced to perform an $82 million repair when cracks destabilized the span’s upper roadway already ten years past its life span.
The agency said it has no alternative for diverting traffic, saying it would be structurally unsafe to move the median.
The westbound upper level will close again from 9 p.m. Sunday until 5 a.m. Monday, CBS 2’s Sanchez reported. Then, repairs will be suspended until mid-January. Crews hope to complete the work by March.
For more information, visit www.panynj.gov.
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