As the smoke clears from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, New Jersey commuters returning to their jobs in New York City will experience increased traffic and, for people who use the Holland Tunnel, the need to take a different route. Traffic has been barred from the Holland Tunnel until further notice, as the New York side of the tunnel is amidst ongoing investigations and rescue efforts.
The Port Authority re-opened the Lincoln Tunnel, the George Washington Bridge and the Staten Island bridges on Thursday.
The indefinite closing of the Holland Tunnel is likely to create traffic in other areas, said Ernesto Butcher, the chief operating officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
To cope with these traffic issues, a coalition of transportation services and agencies convened Thursday at the Journal Square Transportation Center to implement a procedural emergency management plan, according to Suzanne Mack, the executive director of the Hudson Transportation Management Team. Comprised of the Port Authority, New Jersey Transit, and the state Department of Transportation among others, this management team monitors the traffic in the North Jersey area and coordinates its direction with the police officers of each town that are manually directing the traffic-jammed areas and detour locations.
Mack said that Routes 1 and 9 have become dense because part of the Turnpike is closed from Newark Airport to Exit 15.
At a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon, Butcher declined to comment on specific security measures being taken by the Port Authority to ensure that the other bridges and tunnels are secure, but said that the Port Authority will take "stringent security measures at tunnels and bridges."
However, he said that these security measures should not affect the flow of traffic much. "Our policemen are working 12-hour shifts and ensuring the safety of all the people that use our facilities," he said.
Commuters who take the PATH trains into New York City, which are also run by the Port Authority, can resume their commute as normal, with the exception of the World Trade Center station. "We have not made plans as to the World Trade Center station," Butcher said.
New York Waterways, the company that runs ferry service for tens of thousands of Hudson County commuters, expected to resume its regular schedule Friday morning, with the exception of ferries to the Trade Center area.
New Jersey Transit, which provides bus and train service to New York City, has resumed its normal operations as well except for Holland Tunnel routes, according to NJ Transit spokesperson Ken Miller. Buses using the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge will not change their routes or schedules.
"All airports, bridges, and maritime terminals are ready," Butcher said. "We are more determined than ever to rise above this catastrophe."
The Port Authority also controls Newark Airport, JFK Airport, and LaGuardia Airport, all of which were ready to resume service Thursday afternoon.
Since the Port Authority used the World Trade Center as its administrative headquarters, employees will now occupy whatever space is available in the Journal Square Transportation Center in Jersey City. The Port Authority's financial systems were not affected, Butcher said, and it is attending to business as usual. "We will resume making payments to contractors and vendors on Friday," Butcher said
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey sponsored the construction of the World Trade Center building in 1966 when the project to build the towers began, and has kept its headquarters in the World Trade Center since the building opened in 1970. Of the 7,000 people employed by the Port Authority, 2,000 of them worked in the World Trade Center offices that occupied 14 floors of the north tower. Last week, 150 of them were unaccounted for.
Butcher said that any relatives of missing Port Authority employees who are seeking information should call: (973) 565-5505, (973) 565-5506, or (973) 565-5507.