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Commuters Survive First Real Test Of Pulaski Skyway Closure

Pulaski Skyway as seen from Chopper 880. The northbound lanes of the span will be closed for a 2-year bridge deck replacement project. (credit: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880) CLICK to enlarge

Pulaski Skyway as seen from Chopper 880. The northbound lanes of the span will be closed for a 2-year bridge deck replacement project. (credit: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880) CLICK to enlarge

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – It wasn’t “car-mageddon.” In fact, the first weekday commute with the inbound Pulaski Skyway closed wasn’t much different from a normal Monday.

School vacations and a holiday week combined to keep traffic light and give commuters a break from what figures to be a long haul for those who drive in to Jersey City or lower Manhattan.

Inbound traffic is being detoured on the 82-year-old span for the next two years for repairs as part of a $1 billion renovation project. The bridge officially closed on Saturday.

EXTRA: Navigating The Pulaski Skyway Shutdown | Traffic & Transit

About 40,000 cars use the Pulaski Skyway as a direct link between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Holland Tunnel and New York City daily. Much of that traffic is now being rerouted through Jersey City.

Officials say the bridge is a decrepit, crumbling structure and that very little work has been done to it over its lifetime. New Jersey Transportation Commissioner James Simpson said the project “just had to be done.”

“It hasn’t had much work done to it, it’s the original deck and the deck is really in poor shape and the bridge is in not great shape,” Simpson said.

“When you go underneath it, it’s corroded and it’s just a matter of time before a major disaster happens,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

LINKS: Skyway Rehab Twitter | Pulaski Skyway Travel Times | Pulaski Skyway Maps

Drivers will have to find alternate routes, including the Turnpike extension, I-78, and Route 9.

Jersey City declared a state of emergency and is deploying more than 50 police officers to direct traffic through the city.

“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,” Fulop said.

When the inbound lanes are completed in about a year, outbound traffic will use those lanes so that the outbound lanes can be repaired.

Transportation officials are urging commuters to carpool or take public transit instead of driving.

Extra trains and additional capacity are being offered by NJ TRANSIT and PATH during the morning commute and ferry service is available from Monmouth County to Jersey City and Manhattan.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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.)