NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The New Jersey Department of Transportation shared details Tuesday on the upcoming lane closures on Route 495 which leads commuters using the Lincoln Tunnel in and out of New York City.
CBS2’s Meg Baker got a behind-the-scenes look at the extensive damage they’re going in to repair.
The 80-year-old Route 495 viaduct is in dire need of repair after patchwork maintenance for years. Up above on a ramp from Route 1 & 9, the roadway is missing a guard rail, while down below the steel is crumbling.
All this decay is expected to require two and half years of construction work to repair.
“We can do the project in stages where they can pull up the deck work on steel underneath each section at a time,” said Stephen Schapiro of the NJDOT.
Route 495 connects drivers from the tunnel to the New Jersey turnpike and Route 3, where more than 150,000 motorists drive over the aging infrastructure each day.
One lane of 495 in each direction will be closed starting this Friday, a milestone many commuters as called “doomsday” based on its impact during the morning rush.
“That will take place for the fall, then another lane shift several months into next year reduces four lanes to three lanes,” said Schapiro.
On the other side of the river, New Yorkers will feel the pain too.
“We’ve been working with all of our regional partners and traffic organizations that report on traffic flows,” said Schapiro. “We do expect westbound to have less impact than eastbound.”
NJDOT suggests North Jersey commuters take the George Washington Bridge or a bus from the Vince Lombardi Park and ride as the express bus lane will remain open.
Trains and buses are already packed. But don’t look for much relief there.
“The XBL (Exclusive Bus Lane) is actually at capacity and also the Port Authority Bus Terminal is at capacity, so unfortunately we don’t have the ability to add buses there,” Schapiro said. “And with train cars also, we just don’t have cars available to add to that.”
If working from home or driving during off peak hours is not an option, the best route may be to take the North Bergen light rail to the ferry.
The state says once the extensive steel work is complete it will help prevent emergency repairs that have become the necessary norm over the years.
The project is expected to extend the life of the viaduct by about 75 years.