ESCAPE FROM HOBOKEN: Perfect Storm of Traffic Snarls Set to Punish Drivers
If you look closely at the map of the Manhattan Island Prison in John Carpenter’s 1981 sci-fi classic Escape From New York, you’ll notice Hoboken falls within the “Containment Wall.” So we’ll just call this a case of life imitating art, as developments over the weekend have brought about a scenario that will make it extremely difficult to leave our sector.
On Friday, the City of Hoboken announced that the block of 12th Street between Madison Street and Jefferson Street will be closed to traffic for approximately three weeks beginning on Monday, October 2, to allow for work on a PSEG Substation.
According to PSEG, the Madison Street Substation Project, “is a proposed multi-million dollar capital improvement that will upgrade the station to make it more reliable and resilient in the wake of severe weather. PSE&G will construct a new, elevated substation featuring state-of-the-art 69,000-volt (69kV) gas insulated switchgear to serve the electric distribution system, benefiting Hoboken businesses and residents.”
Unfortunately the installation of this vital substation will choke a heavily traveled route in the northwest portion of town.
Hours after that announcement, a fire broke out at around 6:45 p.m. by the intersection of 14th & Coles Streets in Jersey City, near the Jersey City exit of the Holland Tunnel. While there were no injuries reported, the blaze prompted the Port Authority of NY/NJ to issue a statement warning motorists of a “Gridlock Alert” due to “extensive structural damage” to the Route 139 on-ramp. The repairs will result in a 60% capacity reduction, thereby snarling traffic at both the Manhattan and New Jersey ends of the tunnel.
“Drivers should use mass transit, consider alternate work hours or telecommute if possible since other crossing like the Lincoln Tunnel may face delays due to the diverted traffic,” says the Port Authority. Furthermore, “Travelers to Newark Liberty International Airport are encouraged to use NJ Transit rail service from New York Penn Station to access the Newark AirTrain to the airport’s terminals.”
(CLICK HERE for the full statement.)
PATH rail is reportedly adding two extra trains hourly during the morning and evening rush hours on the Newark to World Trade Center, Hoboken to World Trade Center and Journal Square to 33rd Street lines starting Monday morning.
All of this drama coincides with the ongoing redesign of Washington Street, which has managed to choke both foot and vehicular traffic on Hoboken’s main artery. A knock-on of the controversial initiative is that local businesses are already reporting losses of 25%, while passengers claim that NJ Transit bus service has been erratic.
So with construction projects to the north, emergency construction to the south, and our principal thoroughfare stifled to a slow, bumpy crawl, the Mile Square City is more or less hemmed in. After Hoboken’s “Summer of Hell,” Autumn looks like it’s off to an infuriating start.
Try not to get too edgy…