Port Authority officials met with Weehawken residents at Woodrow Wilson School last night to discuss the $1.1 billion Lincoln Tunnel Helix Replacement Project.
The project, where construction isn’t expected to commence until 2022, currently has $1.1 billion allocated towards it through the Port Authority’s 10-year capital plan, according to Deputy Director of Tunnels and Bridges Roger Prince.
Prince added that the bi-state agency has already established an executive oversight committee for the major infrastructure endeavor, as well as exploring the economic, social and environmental impacts of the project.
Already ruling out some initial concepts, Prince explained why the agency prefers what’s known as Scheme H.
“This structure will be extended north, over the North Marginal Highway, somewhere to A and B, the Pleasant Avenue on ramp improvements will be programed in – potentially as an early phase action option,” he began.
“The structure maintains eastern alignment, which is all under the bluff, so that we do not move any further into the bluff and we push the structure more to the left … which extends slightly over the rock soil area just to the left of the Lincoln Tunnel Administration Building.”
Based on a diagram prepared by the Port Authority, other advantages of this design include wider lane widths, road shoulders added for driver safety and emergency vehicles, as well as minimizing the impact to residential properties – among other reasons.
Using an animated projection, Prince further illustrated how this concept would be most advantageous for commuters and residents alike.
“The proposed design will show up to the right as the existing structure fades away: now you’re seeing what it looks like … You can see that the outbound roadway transitions from being parallel to the inbound roadway to being on top of it so that we can make it tighter in that area,” he stated.
“And then as a point, when we come closer to the bluff, the roads start to separate … and the two roadways eventually come back to the same elevation as we tie in through [interstate] 495.”
Despite a detailed presentation that lasted over an hour, after hosting a similar session last week, some residents who approached the microphone were not impressed by what they heard so far.
“The Port Authority expects us to believe that a design executed in the 1930s is the right solution for today. We are honestly skeptical about the analysis that led to that conclusion and therefore we request a copy of the study that supports the decision,” said Weehawken resident Patricia Spross Tehrani.
She also read off some comments from a Weehawken website questioning the project, calling the design “archaic” and noting that the impact on New York appears to be left out of their planning at this point.
“Their current plans continue the failing, short-sighted mess that already exists [at the Lincoln Tunnel].”
According to the Port Authority, the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s rehabilitation of Route 495 is scheduled to last through mid-2021 and the Lincoln Tunnel Helix Replacement program is slated to start in 2022 and run until 2027.
Nearly the entire hearing was streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: