Commuters Urged To Avoid Holland Tunnel After Fire On Nearby Ramp

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Drivers who take the Holland Tunnel are being advised to find another way to get into the city Monday morning.

As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, ongoing repairs from a fire on a ramp at the tunnel in Jersey City are to blame.

Thus, Holland Tunnel traffic is a crawl that New Jersey commuters should start getting used to.

“Traffic is just unbelievable,” said Marcus Mills of Roselle.

Charlie Piotroski said it takes him an hour and 45 minutes to get through the tunnel.

The cause was a fire that broke out under the Route 139 ramp on Friday night. The damage was so severe that it torched the back of a police car.

Commuters use the ramp to travel west to major roadways like the New Jersey Turnpike, Routes 1 & 9 and Kennedy Boulevard in New Jersey.

“They can expect on Monday to experience gridlock-like conditions that can normally occur around the holiday season,” Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Director of Tunnels, Bridges, and Terminals Roger Prince said Sunday.

The ramp’s structure was thought to be compromised by the fire, which took out three of the five lanes on the westbound side of 139. With two lanes left, authorities say they’ll create a third lane by opening up the shoulder and do their best to create a fourth.

Repairs will not be complete anytime soon.

“It is safe to say we are probably talking weeks, perhaps a couple of months, to fully repair the damage from this fire,” said Andrew Tunnard of NJ TRANSIT.

Until those repairs are complete, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is urging commuters to avoid the Holland Tunnel.

“I’m going to take the Verrazano. I’m going to take the BQE to the Verrazano,” said Corey Jackson, “but this doesn’t make no sense. Ridiculous. Two hours to get through the tunnel? That doesn’t make no sense.”

To accommodate, NJ TRANSIT will be adding capacity to light rail and bus routes.

Capacity will be added “on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail between the West Side Avenue park-and-ride and Hoboken Terminal, to bus routes along the Route 9 corridor into and out of Port Authority Bus Terminal,” said Nancy Snyder of NJ TRANSIT.

One traffic agent told CBS2’s this gridlock is the worst he has ever seen. And adjusting from the typical five westbound lanes down to two and a shoulder, it’s going to take some patience.

“I’ll tell you right now — I could cross the street and I don’t have to push a button,” Patrick Hobbs said as he observed the virtual parking lot that would mean an easy crossing with no moving traffic.

So in the meantime, Mills said he would be enjoying “nice music,” and, “I took some food from my sister’s house, so we’re about to eat this food while we sit in traffic and just wait it out.”

And for the rest of the week, commuters are advised to plan ahead and leave early. Officials advice commuters to travel before 7 a.m. or after 9 a.m.

More than 2,600 vehicles per hour and 46,000 vehicles daily travel from Manhattan to New Jersey using the tunnel on average, according to the Port Authority.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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