By Mark Hallum
To mitigate the overflow of traffic expected to hit roads and the city transit system with major Penn Station overhauls looming this summer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a speed-up in the construction on MTA bridges and tunnels to keep additional cars off the road.
The plan will enact cashless tolling five months early on the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel and ensure that construction projects to increase capacity on the structures be completed by July 8 when Amtrak is scheduled to reduce service through Penn Station, which sees over 300,000 commuters per day.
“Our top priority is ensuring all New Yorkers can get where they need to go as quickly and easily as possible this summer and we’re taking every conceivable step to prepare for Amtrak’s summer of hell,” Cuomo said. “By aggressively expediting construction we are taking action to ease commutes and provide New Yorkers with peace of mind.”
The completion of a bus/HOV lane will be accelerated on the upper level of the Verrazzano Bridge to help with traffic flow and take the total number of cars off the road. Hurricane Sandy reconstruction in the Queens-Midtown Tunnel will be complete with both tubes available to motorists, while the Manhattan Downtown Exit Plaza will open to its full two-lane capacity.
Amtrak, which owns Penn Station and is responsible for upkeep of the facility and the tracks leading to and from the transit hub, announced it would spend six weeks over the summer catching up on long-overdue repairs. Breakdowns and derailments have become commonplace in the station and Cuomo in a letter recently asked President Donald Trump to help address the issues commuters on the Long Island Rail Road will face, comparing the situation to that of a natural disaster.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall