NBC 4 New York
The New York-bound Pulaski Skyway will be closed for two years beginning in 2014 because of major restorations. Jonathan Vigliotti reports.
The New York-bound Pulaski Skyway will be closed for two years beginning in 2014, creating travel headaches for commuters trying to get to Lower Manhattan, officials announced Thursday.
NBC 4 New York was first to report the story on Wednesday.
Officials announced that the key roadway will be out of commission for New York-bound drivers beginning in February of next year, after Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.
While rebuilding the 80-year-old bridge to last another 75 years will take several years, the project that affects New York-bound commuters will last about two years.
During that time, two of the bridge's four lanes will be redecked at a time, but only outbound traffic will be allowed, no matter which lanes are under construction.
Drivers who regularly traverse the Pulaski Skyway unhappily calculated the extra time it would take them to cross the highway during the closure.
"It's going to take me an hour or two later to go home because there's going to be traffic on the other side," said Aliyah Gray of Jersey City. "I'm upset."
But David Serro, also of Jersey City, understood the necessity of updating the old infrastructure.
"If they need to maintain the highway, they necessarily have to do something to it," he said. "We have to maintain it. If not, it's just going to be a dilapidated highway."
Hudson County executive Tom DeGise recognized it would present a "horrible, horrible predicament."
But DeGise said there are no good alternatives for work on a bridge that was built with the same truss construction as an interstate highway span that collapsed in Minnesota several years ago, killing several motorists.
"We are announcing these construction plans a full year before the serious impacts will be felt because we welcome and value input from commuters, emergency service providers, local officials, residents and business owners," DOT Commissioner James Simpson said in a statement. "The comments and suggestions we receive will help us focus on travel routes, travel modes and other options that will best serve the public and help mitigate the anticipated significant traffic impacts associated with this essential and necessary work."
The challenge for commuters heading into the city, or even Jersey City or Hoboken, is that there are few practical alternatives.
The only other highway leading to the Holland Tunnel is the Newark Bay extension of the New Jersey Turnpike, and it often backs up several miles during morning rush hour.
Otherwise, New Jersey motorists could be expected to take local streets through Jersey City to get to the tunnel, or take the busy Lincoln Tunnel to midtown and then drive downtown. They could also drive up to the equally busy George Washington Bridge and down the crowded West Side Highway.
In perhaps as the least attractive alternative, drivers might take the overburdened Goethals Bridge to the always-packed Staten Island Expressway to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Gowanus Expressway before finally entering Lower Manhattan through the cramped Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.