The feared 'carmegeddon' begins today.
For driverswho take the Tappan Zee or George Washington bridges into the city, it's going to be a rough few months. Construction on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, the go-to route for New Jersey drivers that connects Manhattan and the Bronx, will mean at least three months of brutal traffic, transit officials expect.
Though the construction started forcing all traffic from two lanes to one started Saturday night, transit experts are anticipating the real backups to start during today's morning rush hour. An estimated 188,000 vehicles pass over the bridge each day.
Transportation department spokesman Adam Levine said he expected traffic to remain heavy during the project's early days.
"It's human nature," Levine said. "People are going to see if it's fine, then make a change later."
He recommends people use mass transit when possible and consider alternate routes into New York City such as the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north, the tunnels into Manhattan, even the Goethals or Bayonne Bridges to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
New Jersey Transit said it is bracing for "significant delays" for its bus routes, while the MTA said the work is "not expected to have any effect" on service. New York Waterway is pushing its ferry from New Jersey to W. 39th Street for commuters who want to avoid the roads.
Robert Sinclair, of AAA New York, has nicknamed the $409 million rehab project "carpocalypse," calling it "an end-time scenario for cars."
"It could be a situation where we say traffic jams of epic proportions," Sinclair said Sunday. When asked for his suggestion for a better route, he replied: "there's no good way, really."
The rehab work, which the state Department of Transportation calls its largest-ever single-construction project, includes replacing the deck of the bridge and strengthening its steel arch and support beams. It will only affect eastbound commuters for the next few months, and all construction is expected to be finished by the end of 2013.
People traveling from New Jersey to yesterday's Yankees game against the Angels said they were able to get to the park without too much trouble.
"Same as any other day," said Aaron Hensz, 24, a bartender from North Haledon.