Imagine sitting in almost-not-moving traffic with an SUV full of overtired, sticky, sweaty kids on a hot Sunday night in July as you inch home after a day at the Jersey shore.
That is what travelers from New Jersey trying to get to New York had to endure last weekend when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey decided to do a full weekend closure of the Bayonne Bridge as part of its $1.29 billion "Raise the Roadway" project that is elevating the bridge deck from 151 feet to 215 feet to allow the larger cargo ships to pass through.
Construction on the Goethals Bridge, Holland Tunnel, and George Washington Bridge is snarling traffic in the area and driving conditions for Staten Island residents returning from Jersey were complicated by local police closing access to local roads near the bridge crossing.
Initially, the Port Authority said the bridge roadway would be open to traffic throughout the construction period with daily overnight closures from 8:30 PM to 5 AM, with some daytime closures as needed. The agency also warned of some full weekend closures from Friday at 9 PM through Monday at 5 AM.
- Port Authority Alert: The Bayonne Bridge will be closed from 11:59 p.m. tonight, July 14, through 5 a.m. Monday, July 17. During the closing, traffic will initially be detoured via 5th Street in Bayonne to support construction activities. By 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 15, traffic will be detoured via Avenue A for the duration of the bridge closing.
However, Sunday evenings have become what some Twitter users called 'insane' conditions on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Traffic got so bad last Sunday that the Port Authority took to social media to ask drivers to stay on the highway to access the Outerbridge Crossing. Perth Amboy's Mayor Wilda Diaz became so frustrated with drivers clogging the neighborhoods searching for detours she became streaming videos of the traffic on Twitter.
But, things are looking up. This morning the Port Authority announced a new schedule.
"In response to traveler concerns and what has become record volumes of traffic going over the Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge this summer, we will no longer close the Bayonne Bridge on Sunday nights," Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman said. "Any weekend closings will end on Sunday afternoon to allow the bridge to absorb some of the traffic heading back to New York from the Jersey Shore and other destinations."
"We are still working out the timing with the contractor," he said. "This decision was just made this morning given the record levels of traffic we've seen going over our Staten Island crossings on Sunday nights this summer."