Commuters urged to take mass transit after Holland Tunnel ramp fire

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Authorities have beefed up mass transit to assist commuters who use the Holland Tunnel after a fire Friday night caused structural damage to the Route 139 ramp leading to the tunnel in Jersey City.

One lane outbound remain closed through the area, but since the state DOT shifted one of the traffic lanes into what is usually the right shoulder, they are currently operating westbound four lanes through the area instead of the usual five.

The closures have caused backups in the tunnel and in Manhattan.

New Jersey Transit has added capacity to some bus routes and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. PATH trains also were added.

Commuters use the ramp to travel west to major roadways like the New Jersey Turnpike, Routes 1&9 and Kennedy Boulevard in New Jersey.

More than 2,600 vehicles per rush hour and 46,000 vehicles daily travel through the tunnel from Manhattan to New Jersey.

Outbound traffic from the Holland Tunnel was a little heavier than usual Monday morning. Inbound traffic, or the main direction during the morning commute, is not affected by this incident.

Emergency repairs continue, and since this is a closure that mainly affects the afternoon commute, the state DOT still says "motorists should expect delays and congestion coming out of the Holland Tunnel, particularly during the afternoon commute."

It took a half hour for Eyewitness News to make it through on Sunday night, and most drivers say it took them even longer than that. Never exceeding 10 miles an hour, at times traffic was at a complete standstill.

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Officials are warning of potential backups this week at the Holland Tunnel.

The traffic nightmare was a result of the Jersey City fire on Friday - so hot, it melted support beams and shut downs three lanes of the Route 139 ramp.

Port Authority Police were out late Sunday night, doing their best to ease the pain. Construction workers worked round the clock to get things back up and running.

Until the lanes are open, PATH trains will provide more service on its Newark to World Trade Center, Journal Square to 33rd Street and Hoboken to World Trade Center lines. NJ Transit will also add capacity to Hudson Bergen Light Rail Service, and more buses to and from Port Authority.

Officials say the backup could spill into New York City streets.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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