NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- It's time for the main event of the $90.3 million project to replace the 80-year-old viaduct that carries Route 495 over Routes 1 and 9.
Two lanes are now closed on the Route 495 bridge to and from the Lincoln Tunnel, and they will remain closed until the summer of 2021.
The bridge is rated as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, and the rehab project is expected to extend the useful service life of the bridge for an estimated 75 years and eliminate the need for potential emergency repairs.
"This is one of the most critical roadways in the region connecting New Jersey Turnpike, Route 3 and the Lincoln Tunnel," NJ DOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. "As you all know it is already one of the most congested roadways and it is going to get more congested, this bridge is in need of significant repair to the deck, and to the structural steel."
The traffic pattern will change eight times during the project, beginning with one center lane in each direction. The exclusive bus lane - the most heavily used in the country - will remain open eastbound between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.
In connection with the project, the 31st Street ramp was closed last week, impacting drivers coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey who need to travel westbound on Route 495. The closure affects local traffic going through Union City that use 495 to get onto the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 3. Approximately 1,200 cars use that ramp daily.
Drivers are urged to find alternate ways to get in and out of the city.
Options if driving:
George Washington Bridge
Holland Tunnel (Pulaski Skyway is fully open to Holland Tunnel)
Staten Island Expressway, Verrazano Bridge and Gowanus Expressway
Use the Western Spur of I-95/NJ Turnpike to avoid congestion
Other Tips for drivers:
Travel before 6 a.m. or after 9 a.m.
Use Park & Ride and Carpool lots
Don't drive. Use PATH, NJT Bus and Rail, and/or a ferry
NJ Transit is encouraging drivers looking to avoid traffic to utilize the nearby Vince Lombardi Park and Ride, which has parking capacity to accommodate additional customers. In addition, 136 parking spaces were added to the North Bergen Park & Ride as part of the Route 495 project.
The transit agency says they will make changes and adjustments as necessary during the course of the project.
NJ Transit Bus Commuters
AM: Routes remain the same to Port Authority Bus Terminal
PM: Potential for longer travel times.
Travel Eastbound before 6:00 a.m.
North-South travel: use Western Spur of NJ Turnpike
Encourage flexible, staggered hours and alternate work sites
Consider a 4-day work week and telecommuting
Consider company buses
Commuters can sign up for alerts at www.RestoreNJ495.com. NJDOT has also set-up a Facebook page and a Twitter account.
Local residents who have questions, concerns or need to report problems related to the project can contact the DOT by calling 201-408-8495 or emailing DOTOutreachRT495@dot.nj.gov.
Of course, you can count on Eyewitness News to provide the latest information on Channel 7 and here on abc7NY.com. We also invite you to download our Eyewitness News app for updates and alerts on the go.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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Lincoln Tunnel Commuters: What to know about New Jersey's Route 495 Bridge Project