NEWARK – A $1 billion project to rehabilitate the 80-year-old Pulaski Skyway will mean big headaches for commuters starting in 2014. The 3.5 mile elevated highway carries 67,000 motor vehicles per day between Newark and Jersey City and serves as an express link for cars and buses to and from the Holland Tunnel, but construction will require the northbound lanes to be shut down for two years.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation today announced construction details of the project today, with Commissioner James Simpson and members of the project team meeting with local officials and media in Newark.
After considering a range of options, NJDOT is advancing a plan that will require a complete diversion of northbound motorists from the skyway for approximately two years while the existing deck is replaced. Two southbound travel lanes will be maintained during this phase of the rehabilitation project.
“We are announcing these construction plans a full year before the serious impacts will be felt because we welcome and value input from commuters, emergency service providers, local officials, residents and business owners,” said Simpson. “The comments and suggestions we receive will help us focus on travel routes, travel modes and other options that will best serve the public and help mitigate the anticipated significant traffic impacts associated with this essential and necessary work.”
The department announced that it is conducting a survey to obtain input from commuters and other skyway users about alternative routes and travel modes they will consider during the deck replacement period. Motorists are being urged to complete the online survey over the next three weeks. NJDOT has planned a variety of meetings to remain engaged with affected communities and stakeholders in the coming months.
Diverting northbound vehicles from the skyway during the deck replacement phase of the rehabilitation project cuts four years of construction time and more than $210 million in costs as compared to an alternative that would restrict deck replacement work to nights and weekends only, when many of the other regional construction projects will be using night and weekend closures.
The skyway provides four travel lanes for motor vehicles, two in each direction separated by a center barrier.
The closure will affect about 34,000 northbound vehicles daily, including about 10,500 vehicles during the 6-9 a.m. peak period. Sixty-two percent of the northbound skyway traffic is destined for the New Jersey waterfront or New York City. The turnpike’s Newark Bay-Hudson County Extension (I-78), Route 1&9 T, the Turnpike Eastern Spur and Route 7 are expected to absorb most of the detoured traffic volume.
Efforts to accommodate diverted traffic include:
- NJDOT announced that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority will convert a shoulder along the Turnpike’s Newark Bay-Hudson County Extension (I-78) into an eastbound travel lane.
- NJDOT will be optimizing northbound traffic flow on 1&9 T.
- NJDOT will be working with NJ TRANSIT on the feasibility of bolstering public transportation service during this period.
- Car-pooling and van-pooling will be encouraged.
- The Department also will be reaching out to employers to determine if there is any flexibility in workday start times.
In addition to replacing the skyway deck, future phases of the project will rehabilitate the steel superstructure and the substructure; will rehabilitate ramp structures; will strengthen the structure against seismic events; will improve drainage and lighting; and will repaint the structure.
The project will transform the skyway from its current poor condition into one that is in a state of good repair. The improvements will extend the life of the skyway by 75 years.
The department and its deck project consultant, Parsons Brinckerhofff, are working closely with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, which oversees the expenditure of federal transportation dollars in northern New Jersey and parts of central New Jersey. The skyway project is being funded by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, but the NJTPA’s role in funding numerous other regional projects makes it a key stakeholder.
The department is carefully coordinating the Pulaski Skyway project with other regional transportation infrastructure projects to minimize traffic congestion. For instance, the department will not close the skyway’s northbound travel lanes until the conclusion of all events connected to the February 2014 National Football League Super Bowl, which will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Similarly, the deck replacement work is being timed to be completed prior to the start of work to reconnect Route 7 to the new Wittpenn Bridge.
NJDOT plans to coordinate with the three northeastern Transportation Management Associations to help keep the public informed as the project progresses through 10 separate construction contracts into the year 2020. Such organizations also serve as valuable conduits for information flowing from stakeholders to NJDOT.
The survey is available online now www.pulaskiskyway.com and on the NJDOT website. Go to www.nj.gov/transportation to reach the NJDOT homepage. Place your cursor on “In the Works” and select “Our Projects & the Environment” from the drop-down menu. Scroll to a list of project links at the bottom of the page and click on “Pulaski Skyway.”
The site contains a wealth of information about the skyway and the project, and will be updated with relevant new information as work progresses. The survey will also be available at the NJTPA and the three TMA websites.
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