JERSEY CITY, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — The wait is over, or maybe it’s just beginning.
A billion-dollar renovation project on the Pulaski Skyway began on Saturday, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
Web Extra: Pulaski Skyway Shutdown Guide
The bridge has been trusted by tens of thousands of drivers to get from New Jersey to Manhattan for decades, but will be shut down for the next two years.
Day one wasn’t so bad, but traffic going from the New Jersey Turnpike to the Holland Tunnel tends to be much lighter on the weekends, CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reported.
“We’ll see what happens on Monday morning,” said Hoboken motorist Cheryl Bucina.
“For now it was not bad. It was a little bit of traffic, but I think it was an accident over there on 1 and 9,” said Carlos Marcal, of South River.
To properly fix the aging skyway officials with the New Jersey Department of Transportation said there was no way around shutting down the highly used northbound lanes of the span for the next two years.
“It’s needed repairs for three or four decades. When you get underneath it, it’s corroded and it’s just a matter of time before a major disaster happens,” Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said.
Forty-thousand cars use the northbound side of the bridge as a direct link between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Holland Tunnel. Now, much of that traffic will be rerouted through Jersey City.
Jersey City Mayor Fulop declared a state of emergency due to the projected backups.
“We’ll have 55 extra police officers on duty, pulling traffic through intersections. We’ll have mechanized traffic lights to recognize traffic flow instead of just time,” he explained.
Available alternate routes include the Turnpike Extension or I-78, and local roads such as Route 9.
“It’s going to really force people to use public transportation,” Jersey City resident, Michelle Mulle said.
That is exactly what officials have urged commuters to do until the project is complete.
“Mass transportation, car pools, park and rides, trains, buses. Do what you can to avoid the traffic flow until the new normal sets in,” Mayor Fulop said.
Nearby residents called the project a necessary inconvenience.
“For years they’ve been patching it up so it’s time they did it. Unfortunately the people have to suffer,” Kenyetta Johnson said.
Drivers told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith they’re already preparing for the worst come Monday.
“It’s gonna be crazy traffic, definitely,” said Qurum, who drives a limo. “Two years is a long time.”
Fayez, a New York City cabbie, said he’s trying to figure out all the alternates.
“I don’t know what’s gonna be happening the next day, otherwise I have only one choice: George Washington,” he said. “I can’t take the Lincoln. Lincoln’s gonna be crazy.”
In the end, drivers will have to figure out their best way to go and get used to a new normal.
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