New York Roads - NY 495/Lincoln Tunnel

NY 495

The famous state line, here in the south tube (EB) and north tube (WB). The center tube (either or both directions depending on traffic) looks similar to the north tube because they were both constructed at the same time, whereas the south tube was added many years later as demand increased. Too bad even more tubes can't be added now.

The entrances to the north and center tubes, respectively (north tube is the standard outbound one, center is reversible and accessible only via the Lincoln Tunnel Expressway). The dark rectangles above the entrances are overheight warnings.

And now, the exit from the south tube, with the center tube to the right. When the Lincoln Tunnel first opened, this was it - inbound on the left, outbound on the right, very complicated roadways in-between.

Facing into the city on Dyer Avenue NB (the main tunnel exit), these are the BGS's that direct traffic - note that the center tube isn't necessarily forced left, because it can use the Lincoln Tunnel Expressway to head south as far as 30th St. The roadway at the Dyer Avenue split is actually configurable to allow either center or south tube to split both ways (technically, traffic from both could split both ways, but that would lead to mayhem), but this seems to be the agreed-upon arrangement, and the traffic cones laid down here are apparently semi-permanent. Hey, take a look at those NY 9A shields, and tell me if they look funny to you. They should, because the bottoms are as round as the tops.

Speaking of the Expressway, here it is referenced as I-495. NYC makes this mistake several times on new signs, because the old signs were correct once upon a time in referring to I-495. Once it became clear 495 would never connect across Manhattan, it was cut off and the Lincoln Tunnel is now officially NY 495. Because there are no reassurance markers and no one cares about what route number the tunnel is, this should really be a circle shield for NJ.

On a snowy day, I noticed these signs on the left for the first time. They're permanent signs, so they don't help much since there's almost never an officer present to signal people. It's pretty much drive as drive can, what with all the cross traffic at 41st and 42nd Streets. The "signal ahead" sign is for the Lincoln Tunnel Expressway, which runs about half a mile south before hitting the signal at 31st St.

One of the Port Authority Bus Terminal entrances, to the left as inbound (EB) traffic follows the 42nd St. BGS around to the left onto Dyer Ave. As you can see, it's not always an entrance; during the PM rush hour, buses can come straight down here to the center tube.

Before summer 2004, you would have seen this sign, in its non-reflective non-button copy glory, above Dyer Ave. at 40th St., mounted on a Port Authority Bus Terminal ramp. Check out that weird ampersand. This sign is old enough to date to when the West Side Highway still soared above West St./12th Ave.

If you choose to go southward toward 34th Street, you come to this trapezoidal sign instead. The Port Authority might be abandoning the trapezoid now, adopting conventional rectangular BGS's, but I'm not sure of this at all.

SB, NB, NB, on the Lincoln Tunnel Expressway that winds from 30th Street to the center tube (with a spur to the north outbound tube). During peak traffic, the yellow VMS in the last photo might tell you that there are two lanes ahead, meaning the center tube is only flowing outbound. Were it the opposite case, with the center tube only coming inbound (say, in the morning), there would still be one lane ahead, and that lane would be forced to cut over to the north tube. While on the topic of the LTE: I-495 was meant to connect above ground, so it's unlikely the LTE was built with the intention of tying into the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

Throwing in another NB view, this courtesy HNTB Corporation.

Here's one looking south by 33rd St.

This sign standard faces traffic exiting the center and north tubes, giving options to enter the LTE if it's open; the trapezoidal shapes were intended to accomodate Port Authority signage of that shape, but rectangular signs have been patched onto them.

10th Ave. NB at the southern end of the Lincoln Tunnel Expwy. There's another new sign with an understandable I-495 error, but the highlight is the abandoned elevated West Side Line or High Line, a onetime freight railroad that gradually turned into a linear elevated park.

Looking west from 36th St. at the brick wall of the LTE ramp against the brick wall of the adjacent building, then south at the ramp signage. The "t" in "St" was specced incorrectly as 3/4 the size of the upper case letter.

On 39th St. WB at 9th Ave., it looks like the original light-up arrows have been covered by a single panel directing all traffic down toward 34th St. The arrows hadn't really seemed to be in use since my childhood, but it's sad to have covered them up - then again, at least the trapezoidal sign remains.

Continuing west on 39th St. WB to a former entrance into the left lane of the outbound north tube here, but that entrance has since been permanently coned off. Now, the red arrow doesn't mean traffic is bad to the left, but rather it means that all traffic has to go left, then around to 40th St.

Originally, NJ 495 was indeed I-495, supposed to connect to the Long Island Expressway via an elevated freeway. Once the Mid-Manhattan Expressway was cancelled, I-495 became NJ 495, and the NY portion I believe has disappeared. Either this contractor is exhibiting wishful thinking, or couldn't find an oval 495 shield, or figured that there's only one kind of 495 in New York. Anyway, this is one of at least two I-495 shields still pointing to NJ 495, and until recently there was a third; this is on 40th St. EB. As far as I know, there are no NY 495 shields for the tunnel, nor NJ 495 shields even.

New regulations prohibit traffic on 9th and 10th Avenues from using the traditional 41st St. entrance into the Tunnel - traffic coming from 11th Avenue onto 40th St. has a somewhat tight 180-degree turn to meet traffic from 41st St., hence the truck warning on 40th St. (EB).

Past that entrance (or if it's closed for some reason), this screwy-looking light-up sign keeps traffic moving toward 9th Ave., where I imagine traffic is supposed to head to the center tube, not like there are any other light-up signs anywhere to help.

Trapezoidal signage for the tunnel (Port Authority-spec), and there are arrows on the left-hand side. This is on 41st Street at 9th Avenue. Making a left to access the Tunnel either requires a few more turns to get around to 40th St. from 11th Avenue, or else heading farther south to get to the center tube entrance. The two arrows point straight ahead or to the left, turning red when one entrance is bad and yellow when one is iffy (or when the tunnel is under a red or yellow light, I don't know which).

And, saving the best for last, an original I-495 shield, the only vintage shield I know of that stands either in NJ or NY uncovered in its full glory (but I believe gone now, sadly). This is on 9th Ave. SB after 41st St. (i.e. after the north/main tube route), at 39th St. The arrows cover up what used to be the shiny yellow and red lights, but as I said above, the 39th St. entrance has been permanently closed.

Into NJ on NJ 495
Through Manhattan to I-495
Into the Port Authority Bus Terminal
To the West Side Hwy., NY 9A
Into Manhattan
The Lincoln Tunnel on Steve Anderson's
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