The Lincoln Tunnel is a set of three tunnels located beneath the Hudson river. The 1.5-mile-long tunnels connect Midtown Manhattan, Weehawken and New Jersey situated in the city of New York. This engineering marvel is an integral channel in the New York Metropolitan that services an average of 52,632 vehicles each day. It was designed by the renown civil engineer, Mr. Ole Singstad and was later on named after the 16th U.S President Abraham Lincoln.
The three tunnels were opened concurrently beginning with the center 8,216-foot-tunnel inaugurated in the year 1937, then the North 7,482-foot-tunnel in 1945 and lastly the South 8,006-foot-tunnel in 1957. Each tunnel road way has a width of 21 feet, 6 inches. The operating headroom is 13 feet while its external diameter is 31 feet. The maximum depth from the roadway to the mean high water is 97 feet. The general structure has a total of 13 toll lanes.
Its history traces back to the 1930’s when construction of the center tube begun. Soon after its owners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, acquired the tunnel in the year 1930, they were authorized by New Jersey and New York to commence with their plan. They proceeded to build what was to be referred as the Midtown Vehicular Tunnel. However, the planners eventually changed it to Abraham Lincoln tunnel because the name had similar importance as the George Washington Bridge.
Constructing a 1.5-mile structure even above the surface is no easy task, therefore, being able to build such a structure beneath a river bed is changing history. Construction of this monumental structure involved assembling and bolstering hundreds of large 21-ton iron rings on the site to create the tunnel lining. The responsibility of the workers in the site was no easy job; it was tedious, dangerous and claustrophobic.
For them to access the tunnels, the crews had to enter airlocks one by one. Afterwards, the doors were locked at each end. The air pressure in the lock had to be increased to make it equal to the pressure of the adjoining lock. Due to the high pressure, sometimes the workers’ ears popped. The ordeal was repeated after each section.
A shield was used to push the tunnel forward to brace its top. This resulted in hissing of the air lines, rattling of trail cars and roaring of the rock drills. In this occurrence, the workers stabilized the situation by bolting the metal rings into place as they poured cement against the new lining to seal the river. They later on prepared for the next shoving session by dynamiting the front of the shield.
As other crew members did their construction from the New Jersey side, the others advanced from the New York section. Its alignment on both the vertical and horizontal section required top notch engineering skills. The initial design only necessitated two tubes. However, due to the increase in traffic demand, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey proposed the third one to help handle additional traffic.
In good time, the planners were able to work out an understanding where a third tube was constructed and opened on the 25th May of 1957. Although the portals may appear side by side, the north tube is a block west from the other two.
Later on, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey established the Exclusive bus lane. This lane is along the Route 495 in NJ from Turnpike in New Jersey towards the Abraham Lincoln tunnel. This lane is dedicated to enabling westbound lane travel to the buses eastbound. This makes The Abraham Lincoln Tunnel the primary transit that allows mass transit for the morning commuters residing around these areas.
The three tunnels have six traffic lanes that carry a combined total of 108,000 motor vehicles. The exclusive bus lane located at the center tube is only used by buses during the early morning rush hour. The cash tolls for motorcycles and cars are $15 from NJ to NY.
Up to now, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey continue to maintain the tunnel and operate this facility efficiently. They continually seek innovative ways that will continue to process the amassing amount of traffic efficiently and safely. They have some upcoming plans that they intend to achieve to create a more efficient mode of transportation.