The $90.3 million, three-and-a-half-year project will increase traffic near the Lincoln Tunnel, officials said.
A transit official advised motorists who take 495 in that area to head to the George Washington Bridge or Holland Tunnel rather than the Lincoln Tunnel during construction hours if they can.
The state Department of Transportation held a local forum on the matter Sept. 14 in North Bergen’s McKinley Elementary School, next to the bridge. It was attended only by a handful of people, mainly transit officials. They handed out information about the project.
The project will begin later this fall.
Starting Sep. 18., and continuing weekdays through fall, the I.E.W. will perform preliminary mobilization work such as installing signals and erosion controls. This work will happen between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
For most of the time, the 31st Street on-ramp to westbound 495 will be detoured to Paterson Plank Road, according to the project’s website.
The 495 bridge connects to 1/9, which leads to the George Washington Bridge, and to Route 3, which connects to East Rutherford’s Meadowlands Sports Complex.
The 3.45-mile Route 495 itself runs through Secaucus, North Bergen, Union City, and Weehawken en- route to New York City. Over 150,000 vehicles use it daily, the DOT says.
Per the DOT’s website covering the renovation, “The bridge is rated as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The project will extend the useful service life of the bridge for an estimated 75 years and eliminate the need for potential emergency repairs.”
"You'll have to deal with some detours around the Route 495 bridge over the next few years."
During phase one of the project, set to begin this fall, construction workers will make safety, drainage, and lighting improvements under the bridge and along the nearby Paterson Plank Road/Union Turnpike Corridor.
Phase one will last approximately one year, the DOT says. Phase two will begin in summer 2018, and include replacing the entire bridge deck. This phase is set for two and a half years. The entire project is expected to be completed in summer 2021, the DOT said.
The renovation will also work on and close ramps connecting to Route 1/9 at certain points of construction. Detours will be put into effect for drivers heading westbound along 495. Fortunately, the work will maintain three of the four bridge lanes during the deck reconstruction.
The project won’t affect the Lincoln Tunnel’s exclusive bus lanes that are used in the area between 6 and 10 a.m. However, NJ Transit’s North Bergen Park and Ride Lot, which is directly under the bridge, will lose parking spots in the construction. Therefore, a new parking lot is being created adjacent to the current lot during the project.
Softening the impact
In order for Paterson Plank to accommodate the additional traffic from the detour, the DOT will install temporary intersection improvements, such as minor intersection widening and re stripping.
Traffic signals on Paterson Plank will also be adjusted to allow more time for motorists to navigate the thoroughfare.
Identical improvements will also come to Union Turnpike, which links to Paterson. Such upgrades will be in place before the DOT implements the traffic restrictions, the agency says.
The transit official, which is the project’s contractor, gave some suggestions for motorists during an interview at the forum.
“If possible, go to the GWB,” he said. “If possible, go to the Holland Tunnel. It's not always going to be possible, but we're going to try to minimize the impact as much as possible.”
He said that he expects an increase in Manhattan-bound traffic from Route 3, during the project. The Turnpike should also see a similar increase heading in-bound, he said.
To help drivers navigate the construction zones, a contract to install Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) infrastructure along the route was completed this summer. The work installed CCTV cameras, overhead lane control signals, and full color matrix dynamic message signs. The cameras will be used to monitor traffic, detect incidents, and contact emergency services as soon as possible.
The DOT will also be performing extensive outreach to inform affected communities.
Sign up for project alerts at http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/rt495/signup.shtm.
Hannington Dia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org