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Northbound Pulaski Skyway To Close For 2 Years This Weekend For ‘Major Reconstructive Surgery’

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New Jersey transportation officials are urging drivers to plan ahead with the two-year closure of the inbound Pulaski Skyway beginning on Saturday.

The aging span is scheduled for a major makeover to replace the bridge deck and give the roadway another 75 years of life.

The project will require the closure of northbound lanes that feed into Jersey City and the Holland Tunnel. The DOT estimates about 40,000 vehicles use the inbound span each day, including about 10,000 during the morning commute.

They’re urging motorists to carpool, take public transportation or use alternate routes. NJ TRANSIT and PATH are adding capacity on some of their trains to handle the anticipated overflow.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation gave a tour Monday to show how parts of the 82-year-old span are rusted and decaying.

“This is not the way it’s supposed to be,” DOT Commissioner James Simpson said during the tour. “This bridge is a D- right now.”

WEB EXTRATraffic & Transit | NJ DOT

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, corrosion and cracks can be seen in the steel beams under the Pulaski Skyway. There are huge holes in the beams due to years of salt and water.

“What happens is the road salt and the water got into the joints and it created a chemical reaction that basically ate away at all the structural steel,” said Simpson.

Sloan and other reporters saw the damage firsthand from a flat bucket. The wear and tear to the bridge deck is alarming, Sloan reported.

“The steel has been all eaten away,” said Simpson.

The deck and steel beams are rusting away on the skyway that goes over the Passaic and Hackensack rivers. It connects to roads leading into the Holland Tunnel.

“We can’t go anymore with Band-Aids. We’ve put enough Band-Aids on this bridge, this bridge needs major reconstructive surgery,” Simpson said.

The skyway has never seen a major overhaul, Sloan reported.

Even though crews have put temporary supports in some spots to make the bridge stable for drivers, the entire deck will be replaced during the two-year project.

“The deck certainly, as you mentioned, it’s 82 years old and it is deteriorating so certainly pieces of concrete fall all of the time so we should always be cautious out here. But is it in danger of collapse, no absolutely not,” NJ DOT assistant commissioner Richard Hammer said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is paying for the $1 billion rehab project.

The skyway does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority and some say the agency shouldn’t pay for repairs.

But New Jersey transportation officials say the bridge impacts every crossing into Manhattan and that the Port Authority is doing the right thing by funding it.

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