The Lincoln Tunnel is a 1.5 mile (2.4 km) long tunnel under the Hudson River, connecting Weehawken, New Jersey and the borough of Manhattan in New York City.
The tunnel was designed by Ole Singstad
. The project was funded by the New Deal's Public Works Administration
. Construction began on the first tube in 1934. It opened to traffic in December 1937, charging $0.50 per passenger car. The cost of construction was $75,000,000. Omero C. Catan, a salesman from Manhattan, drove the first car through the tunnel.
The original design called for two tubes. Work on the second was halted in 1938 but resumed in 1941. Due to war material shortages of metal, completion was delayed for two years. It opened on February 1, 1945 at a cost of $80 million, with Michael Catan, brother of Omero, selected to be the first to lead the public through the tube.
A third tube was proposed by the Port Authority due to increased traffic demand, but initially opposed by the City of New York, which was trying to get the Port Authority to help pay for the road improvements that the City would need to handle the additional traffic. Eventually, a compromise was worked out, and the third tube opened in May 1957 to the south of the original two tunnels.
The three tubes carry six traffic lanes in total. During the morning rush hour one traffic lane in the center tube called the XBL
is used exclusively by buses
. The New Jersey approach roadway, locally known as "the Helix" or "the Corkscrew", spirals in a full circle before arriving at the toll booths in front of the tunnel portals.
The tunnel carries almost 120,000 vehicles per day, making it one of the busiest vehicular tunnels in the world. The XBL is by far the busiest and most productive bus lane in the United States. The lane operates weekday mornings between 6:15 and 10:00 a.m., accommodating approximately 1,700 buses and 62,000 commuters, mainly to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.The XBL carries more trans-Hudson commuter trips into midtown Manhattan each day than any other mode, including commuter rail into Penn Station.
Normally only motor traffic uses the tunnel, but every year a few bicycle tours and foot races pass through by special arrangement.
Events in the Tunnel
Shortly after noon on September 8
, two armed men, Peter Simon and John Metcalf, attempted to rob a home in South Orange, New Jersey
. The men were driven off by the residents, one of whom reported the license plate on their car to the police, who put out an alert. A patrolman, Nicholas Falabella, noticed the car just as it passed the toll booth and ordered the driver to stop the vehicle. The driver sped off into the tunnel, firing at the police. A Port Authority policeman, Donald Lackmun, was hit in the leg. The police commandeered a delivery truck and gave chase, exchanging gun fire with the renegade car while weaving in and out of traffic. In all 28 shots were fired, ten by the gunmen and 18 by the police. The vehicle came to a stop about three fourths of the way through the tunnel. Simon was hit in the head.
With the cancellation of the Mid-Manhattan Expressway
, intended to carry Interstate 495
through New York City to the Queens Midtown Tunnel
and onto the Long Island Expressway
, the NYDOT
demoted the Lincoln Tunnel, Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and the freeway link to NJ 3
as state routes. Some signs still list the tunnels as I-495. Although the Federal Highway Administration
still considers the midtown tunnel to be an Interstate, the Lincoln Tunnel is no longer on the Interstate system. In New Jersey, the freeway was officially demoted to NJ 495
and very few signs still read "I-495". 34th Street
links the disjointed segments of I-495.