Transit Sam, March 21, 2013

Traffic in lower Manhattan has been a bear the last couple of weeks. I am attributing at least some of it to the toll increase at the Battery Tunnel and, to a lesser extent, at the Midtown Tunnel. Since the round-trip tolls went to $10.66 for E-ZPass and $15 in cash, Canal, Varick, Broome and other Downtown streets have seen more traffic as drivers divert to the free bridges to avoid the toll. The diversion is most pronounced on weekends.

All Manhattan-bound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge will close overnight 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday. With nightly 7 p.m. circus performances at Barclays lasting two hours, there shouldn’t be too many stragglers holding up traffic on the Manhattan Bridge.

At the Lincoln Tunnel, all lanes of the Manhattan-bound helix (the spiral approach road to the tunnel) will close overnight 11:59 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Drivers will take the Holland Tunnel instead.

Due to FASTRACK repairs, there will be no E service in Manhattan overnight 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. Take the A or the C instead. M service from Manhattan toward 71st Ave. and Metropolitan Ave. ends at 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and R service from Manhattan toward 71st Ave. and 95th St. ends at 9:40 p.m.

On West St./Route 9A, one lane in each direction will close between West Thames and Vesey Sts. from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Harrison St. will close between Greenwich and Hudson Sts. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

In the Battery Park Underpass, the south tube (from West St. to the F.D.R.) will completely close 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday to Friday and 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Saturday through late June.

For more street closure updates, follow me on Twitter @gridlocksam.

Passover-Easter parking break!  Get a good parking spot on Monday, March 25 and you won’t have to move your car for A.S.P. until Wednesday, April 3rd!  The only exception is where ASP is in effect on Saturday.  In addition, New York City public schools go on spring break beginning Monday. That means no school buses, a respite for parents and commuters and yes, parking allowed adjacent to public schools.

From the mailbag:

Dear Transit Sam,
For the past few weekends around 4:30 p.m., I have traveled north on West St. For many blocks south of Canal St., the traffic backed up to a crawl. The southbound traffic on West St. turning east onto Canal St. blocked the intersection, making the backup worse. There were no traffic enforcement officers on duty directing traffic. Please help.
Mark, Brooklyn

Dear Mark,
I called the N.Y.P.D. to make sure that intersection is covered on weekends. You should now see someone there from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Let me know if otherwise.

However, traffic will continue to be worse since drivers heading south on West St. will turn at Canal to head to the Manhattan Bridge to avoid the toll hike at the Battery Tunnel.

Weekend drivers are more ‘price-sensitive’ than daily commuters, so I’m seeing a lot of new patterns on Saturdays and Sundays. Until we end “bridge shopping” through rational tolls, these patterns will continue.
Transit Sam