Volume 22, Number 32 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 18 - 24, 2009
Port says happy new year to incoming Holland Tunnel trucks
Fearful of traffic jams and diesel fumes, some Tribecans are protesting the Port Authority’s decision to relax restrictions on trucks in the Holland Tunnel.
Currently, small trucks are allowed to leave Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel but have to go up to the Lincoln Tunnel to enter Manhattan. But on Jan. 3, the Port Authority plans to open both directions of the Holland Tunnel to small trucks. Tractor-trailers will still be banned in both directions.
The Port Authority said the change would reduce air pollution because trucks that are traveling from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan won’t have to go out of their way to the Lincoln Tunnel. The Port Authority said some small businesses Downtown requested the rule change.
However, after hearing a presentation at Community Board 1 Tuesday night, many board members disagreed.
“It will exacerbate congestion and pollution,” said Marc Ameruso, a Tribeca resident and C.B. 1 member. “I’m cognizant that small businesses need to use the tunnel, but in this case the safety and air quality of Tribeca should take precedence.”
The Port Authority did not present an environmental impact statement to the board. After hearing board members’ concerns, Chairperson Julie Menin said she would write a letter to the Port Authority asking them to wait a month to make the change and to give the board more information.
A Port Authority spokesperson said the agency would look into any requests they receive.
Small trucks have been banned from the eastbound lanes of the Holland Tunnel since 2004, shortly before the Republican National Convention. Trucks were banned from the tunnel after 9/11, but have been allowed to travel westbound to New Jersey since 2003, the Port Authority said.
As of Jan. 3, the small trucks entering Manhattan will pay a fare of $16.50 to $24, depending on time of day and payment method.
Michael Connolly, a C.B. 1 member who lives near the Holland Tunnel, said the small trucks did not sound like a big imposition, but he added, “It would be unfortunate if this is just the first step to allowing large trucks.”
Connolly and others said the real problem with the Holland Tunnel is that it is part of the Verrazano Bridge route that many vehicles use to avoid paying tolls. The Verrazano Bridge only has tolls one way, so cars and trucks often take the bridge for free into Brooklyn and then cut through Lower Manhattan for free to get back to New Jersey.
The federal government controls the tolls on the Verrazano and Congress changed the toll from two-way to one-way in 1986. Local residents have been agitating for it to be changed back and hoped that a Democratic president and Congress would help, but so far the one-way toll has remained in place.
— Julie Shapiro