Plans are underway for major repairs on the 495 approach to the Lincoln Tunnel, an approach that lies between Union City and Weehawken. The viaduct over Route 1 and 9 will be resurfaced and additional structural work will be done, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT).
Also in the works are changes to the Route 3 eastbound ramp connecting with Route 495, where several fatal accidents have occurred, including a recent single-car accident in North Bergen that left three dead.
Bridge project in initial stages
“The 495 viaduct is going to be reconstructed,” said DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro last week. “What they’re going to do is replace the bridge deck on 495 and then make some repairs and rehabilitate the superstructure and substructure. Just like the Pulaski Skyway project, they will be removing old paint and repainting, which helps preserve the structure.”
The bridge has three main components: the road deck, the superstructure above the roadway, and the substructure beneath it. All three will be repaired as part of the rehabilitation project, which will be funded by the state.
“Replacing the bridge deck is the biggest thing people notice and see,” said Schapiro, since that requires lane closures and traffic adjustments. “They’ll also be working on the piers that hold up the bridge. And then there are other things they might do like parapets or the guide rail.”
“We expect that it will take several years to start and complete.” –Steve Schapiro
Coordinating with other projects
Since mid-2012, the Lincoln Tunnel 495 roadway approach, commonly known as the helix, has been undergoing repairs, with completion expected in December of 2014. That project is under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The new project will address the 495 roadway from the helix out toward the Route 3 connection.
“We always coordinate our projects with the Port Authority and Turnpike Authority,” said Schapiro. “We work together to know what projects are going on and minimize impact. When the 495 project begins it won’t have any impact on work in the same direction on the Pulaski Skyway.”
That means if work is still taking place on the New York-bound Pulaski Skyway, there will not be work done simultaneously on the New York-bound portion of 495.
Three people died in a car accident on July 3 on the Route 3 eastbound ramp connecting with Route 495. A vehicle hit the guard rail about 5:30 a.m., became airborne, and landed on its side, splitting into several pieces. The driver was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and authorities believe speed was a factor in the crash.
Three other individuals were killed in a similar accident at the same spot in August 2013.
The DOT is looking at ways to address the dangers at this curved section of road.
“They’re in concept development looking at possible alternatives,” said Schapiro. “That will give us a better idea of what possible changes we can make to the ramp and a better sense of a timeline. We hope that the concept development stage will be complete by the end of the year.”
Concept development is the first stage of a repair project. Once the concepts have been compiled, the next stage is preliminary engineering, followed by the final design. Then comes the construction phase.
Earlier reports stated that the Route 3 approach was being addressed as part of the 495 project. That is incorrect. The Route 3 project is scheduled to take place after the 495 repairs are completed.
That means any major changes to the ramp are years away.
“If there are opportunities to move up the timeline we will certainly do that,” said Schapiro. “In the short term our traffic operations and engineering folks are investigating interim solutions.”
Among the options are adding signage or possible guide rail enhancements to the approach.
Art Schwartz may be reached at email@example.com.