Route 495

Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

Drivers Prepare For Nightmare Commute With Route 495 Construction Project Underway

August 20, 2018 - 11:16 am

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (WCBS880) -- Monday marks the first full weekday of lane closures on the approach to Lincoln Tunnel.

There was a sigh of relief along the 495 viadcut as the morning commute went by with no catastrophic backups. 

"It was much better than expected, I was here very early this morning, I traveled throughout the ramps and it was much better than expected," said North Bergen Police Capt. Robert Farley Jr.

He believes the real test will be the first week in September.

"It still is late summer, many people are still on vacation with their children and school has not yet opened," Farley said. "School for us opens Sept. 6, just about two and a half weeks from now and hopefully it continues."

The construction project officially began Friday night, in one of the worst traffic bottleneck areas in the northeast. One lane will be closed in each direction for the next two and a half years to make way for construction on the 80-year-old bridge and road surface. The construction project will cost a total of $90 million.

New Jersey's transportation commissioner says the closures will cause “a tremendous amount of pain” as more than 150,000 motorists use the road each day.

On Sunday, there was already trouble on the road when a Peter Pan commuter bus caught on fire on the eastbound side, approaching Route 3.

No injuries were reported, but it took firefighters a while to put out the flames and it prevented any traffic from moving.

“This sacrifice needs to be made,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, adding that if congestion gets really bad Monday morning, police will close local roads to accommodate traffic.

Commuters are being urged to carpool, stagger their travel times and use alternate forms of transportation.

The lane closures come just days after the New Jersey Transit has experienced dozens of train cancellations due to an engineer shortage and track work.

Surrounding municipalities like Secaucus, Union City, North Bergen, and Weehawken are already brazing for clogged local streets.