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How to Navigate the Holland Tunnel Nightmare

Authorities are warning commuters that a fire near the Holland Tunnel on Friday could cause major gridlock this week. Wale Aliyu reports.

(Published Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017)

What to Know

  • It will take weeks, if not months, to fully repair fire damage done to a Route 139 ramp on the Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel

  • Authorities are warning people to take buses, trains or ferries to avoid nightmarish traffic on the NJ and NY side of the tunnel

  • Capacity is being added to trains and buses, and multiple agencies say they're working together to minimize the impact of anticipated delays

Messy commutes are expected at the Holland Tunnel this week after a fire damaged a ramp on the New Jersey side of the span.

Damage from the Friday night fire under the Route 139 ramp has led to closures on the westbound lanes of the New Jersey side, causing backups through the tunnel, as well as in Hoboken, Jersey City and Lower Manhattan.

The gridlock is expected to worsen Monday when people return to work. Authorities are urging commuters to ditch their cars and take alternative means of transportation, including buses, trains and ferries.

A fire on Friday night under the Route 139 ramp caused damage that has closed three of five westbound lanes on the New Jersey side, nearly all the way back to the tunnel, the Port Authority said.

WHAT TO KNOW

• Authorities say repairs will “severely impact Jersey-bound traffic during morning and evening rush hours.”

• Only two of five westbound lanes are open on the New Jersey side of Route 139; three lanes have been closed nearly all the way back to the tunnel. Officials are working on opening a third lane for Monday.

• There may be backups on local streets accessing the tunnel in Manhattan, especially if one of the tunnel’s two westbound lanes is closed due to potential gridlock on the New Jersey side.

• Multiple agencies in New York and New Jersey are working on traffic management plans to lessen potential problems; for example, ongoing construction work on the Bayonne Bridge has been suspended to help ease congestion.

• Officials may add additional police officers, close certain side roads and adjust traffic light patterns to help move traffic.

• The Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge may see an increase in diverted traffic.

• Commuters are advised to travel before 7 a.m. and after 9 p.m. if they want to get a seat on buses.

• Find the latest traffic and transit information at these official websites: Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, George Washington Bridge, PATH, Port Authority Bus Terminal and NJ Transit.

RAIL

• PATH is poised to add two extra trains hourly during the morning and evening rush hours on each of its three lines: Newark to World Trade Center, Hoboken to World Trade Center and Journal Square to 33rd Street starting Monday morning.

• NJ Transit is increasing capacity on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail between the West Side Avenue park-and-ride and Hoboken Terminal between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. This will provide additional capacity and more connectivity to PATH service at Exchange Place, Newport and Hoboken Terminal

• NJ Transit commuters can use the North Jersey Coast Line rail service as an alternative, but must purchase those rail tickets.

• Travelers to Newark Liberty International Airport are encouraged to use NJ Transit rail service from New York Penn Station to access the Newark AirTrain to the airport’s terminals.

BUS

• NJ Transit is adding capacity to bus routes along the Route 9 corridor in and out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in the morning and at peak periods in the afternoon.

• Commuters on the 120 and 64J bus routes should expect significant delays.

FERRY

• NY Waterway ferries depart Hoboken for the West 39th Street Ferry Terminal every 20 minutes until 10 a.m.