Lincoln Tunnel

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Lincoln Tunnel
New Jersey entrance to Lincoln Tunnel
Location Weehawken, New Jersey to Midtown Manhattan, New York City, US
Coordinates 40.7625°N 74.0111°W
Status Open
Route Route 495 (NJ side)
NY 495 (NY side)
Crosses Hudson River
Constructed March 1934 – December 1937 (center tube)
1937–1938, 1941–1945 (north tube)
1954–1957 (south tube)
Opened December 22, 1937; 83 years ago (1937-12-22) (Center tube)
February 1, 1945; 76 years ago (1945-02-01) (North tube)
May 25, 1957; 64 years ago (1957-05-25) (South tube)
Owner Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Operator Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Traffic Automotive
Character Limited-access
Toll (eastbound only) As of December 6, 2015; Cars $15.00 for cash, $12.50 for Peak (E-ZPass), $10.50 for Off-peak (E-ZPass)
Vehicles per day 108,655 (2011, "AADT")[1]
Length 7,482 ft (2,281 m) (north)
8,216 ft (2,504 m) (center)
8,006 ft (2,440 m) (south)[2]
No. of lanes 6
Operating speed 35 miles per hour (56 km/h)[3]
Lowest elevation −97 feet (−30 m)[2]
Tunnel clearance 13 feet (4.0 m)[2]
Width 21.5 feet (6.6 m)[2]

The Lincoln Tunnel is an approximately 1.5-mile-long (2.4 km) set of three tunnels under the Hudson River, connecting Weehawken, New Jersey, and Midtown Manhattan in New York City. An integral conduit within the New York Metropolitan Area, it was designed by Norwegian-born civil engineer Ole Singstad and named after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. It is one of two automobile tunnels built under the river, the other being the Holland Tunnel. The Lincoln Tunnel is also one of six tolled crossings in the New York area owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, although the tolls on each crossing are only collected in the eastbound direction. In 2016, the Port Authority reported that 19,210,919 vehicles paid a toll to use the eastbound Lincoln Tunnel, which equated to an average of 52,632 motor vehicles per day.[4]

The 8,216-foot (2,504-meter) center tube opened in 1937, followed by the 7,482-foot (2,281-meter) north tube in 1945. The 8,006-foot (2,440-meter) south tube was the last to open, in 1957. The tunnel is part of New Jersey Route 495 on the western half of the river, and the unsigned New York State Route 495 on the eastern half of the river.


Course of the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River
Lincoln Tunnel Weehawken helix and entrance 1955, with the south tube under construction

The tunnel was originally to be named Midtown Vehicular Tunnel, but the planners eventually decided that the new tunnel deserved a name that was of similar importance to that of the George Washington Bridge, and named it after Abraham Lincoln.[5]

Designed by Ole Singstad, the tunnel was funded by the New Deal's Public Works Administration. Construction began on the first tube (now the center of the three tubes) in March 1934.[6] It opened to traffic on December 21, 1937, charging $0.50 per passenger car. The cost of construction was $85 million.[7]

The original design called for two tubes. Work on a second tube, north of the first one, 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.[8]

A third tube was proposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 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 on May 25, 1957 to the south of the original two tunnels.[9] Although the three portals are side by side in New Jersey, in New York City the north tube portal is near Eleventh Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets. This portal is one block west of the other two tunnels' portals, which emerge side by side at Tenth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets.

In 2012—the 75th anniversary of the Lincoln Tunnel and 85th anniversary of the Holland Tunnel in nearby Jersey City—the Hoboken Historical Museum held an exhibit in its Main Gallery called Driving Under the Hudson: The History of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, which explores the two tunnels' histories, and how they affected the region. Rutgers University professor Angus Gillespie, who wrote the 2011 book, Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, served as a consultant for the exhibit's design.[5]

Crime and terrorism

Shortly after noon on September 8, 1953, 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 into New York City 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 gunfire with the fleeing 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-quarters of the way through the tunnel. Simon had taken a bullet to the head.[10]

The tunnel is considered to be one of the most high-risk terrorist target sites in the United States. Other such sites in New Jersey include the Holland Tunnel and PATH station at Exchange Place, both of which are in Jersey City, and the Port of Newark in Elizabeth.[11]



The three tubes comprise six traffic lanes in total and carry a combined total of almost 108,000 vehicles per day. During the morning rush hour, one traffic lane in the center tube called the "XBL" (exclusive bus lane) is used only by buses.[12] The New Jersey approach roadway, locally known as The Helix, turns in a final half-circle before arriving at the toll booths in front of the tunnel portals. In Manhattan, Dyer Avenue and the Lincoln Tunnel Expressway serve as the primary egress roadways for the Lincoln Tunnel.[13] Although the center tube normally provides one travel lane in each direction, both of the travel lanes in the tunnel's center tube are reversible and can be configured for peak-hour traffic demand if needed.[14]

Normally, only motor traffic uses the tunnel, but every year, a few bicycle tours and foot races pass through by special arrangement.[15]

The XBL is by far the busiest and most productive bus lane in the United States.[16] The lane operates weekday mornings accommodating approximately 1,700 buses and 62,000 commuters, mainly to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.[12] The ridership on the buses using the XBL is higher than that on New Jersey Transit's commuter rail into Penn Station.[17]

Route numbering

With the cancellation of the Mid-Manhattan Expressway, intended to carry Interstate 495 through New York City to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and the Long Island Expressway, the NYSDOT and NJDOT 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 renumbered to NJ 495 and very few signs still read "I-495". In Manhattan, 34th Street links NY/NJ 495 and I-495.[citation needed]

As of 2012, the tunnel carries the unsigned NY 495 as well as NJ 495. The NY 495 designation applies to the part of the tunnel in New York, and NJ 495 to the portion in New Jersey.[citation needed]


Manhattan portals of the south and center tubes
Manhattan ventilation tower

As of December 6, 2015, the cash tolls going from New Jersey to New York are $15 for cars and motorcycles; there is no toll for passenger vehicles going from New York to New Jersey. E-ZPass users are charged $10.50 for cars and $9.50 for motorcycles during off-peak hours, and $12.50 for cars and $11.50 for motorcycles during peak hours.[18]

Historically, the tolls were:

Historic tolls for the Lincoln Tunnel
Years Toll Toll equivalent
in 2021[19]
1937–1970 $0.50 $3.08 – 8.33 each direction
1970–1975 $1.00 $4.45 – 6.17 eastbound only
1975–1980 $1.50 $4.36 – 6.68 eastbound only
1980–1987 $2.00 $4.22 – 5.81 eastbound only
1987–1991 $3.00 $5.28 – 6.32 eastbound only
1991–2001 $4.00 $5.41 – 7.03 eastbound only
2001–2008 $6.00 $6.67 – 8.12 eastbound only
2008–2011 $8.00 $8.52 – 8.90 eastbound only
2011–2013 $12.00 $12.34 – 12.78 eastbound only
2013–2014 $13.00 $13.15 eastbound only[20]
2014–2015 $14.00 $14.15 eastbound only[20]
2015 (Dec)– $15.00 $15.00 eastbound only[20]

See also


  1. "2011 NYSDOT Traffic Data Report" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. Appendix C. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Facts & Info—Lincoln Tunnel". Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  3. "Traffic Restrictions". Retrieved November 24, 2012. 
  4. "Port Authority of NY & NJ 2016 Monthly Traffic" (PDF). 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hortillosa, Summer Dawn (January 24, 2012). "Hoboken Museum exhibit explores history of Holland, Lincoln tunnels". © 2012 New Jersey On-Line LLC. All rights reserved. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  6. "Another Vehicular Tunnel Under Hudson River Now Connects New York and New Jersey". Life. December 27, 1937. p. 18. Retrieved March 27, 2010. 
  7. "Lincoln Tunnel Is Opened with Festive Ceremonies". The New York Times. December 22, 1937. p. 1. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  8. "New Lincoln Tube Will Open Today; North Tube of the Lincoln Tunnel to be Opened Today". The New York Times. February 1, 1945. p. 25. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  9. Ingraham, Joseph C. (May 26, 1957). "3d Lincoln Tube Is Opened". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  10. "Two Seized in 28-Shot Battle With Police in Lincoln Tube". The New York Times. September 9, 1953. p. 1. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  11. Pope, Gennarose. (February 5, 2012). "Two most dangerous miles in the U.S.". The Union City Reporter.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Exclusive Bus Lane - Lincoln Tunnel". The Port Authority of NY & NJ. 2015-12-18. Retrieved 2016-12-22. 
  13. Google (2016-12-22). "Lincoln Tunnel" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2016-12-22. 
  14. "NY 495/Lincoln Tunnel". New York Roads. Retrieved 2016-12-22. 
  15. Lynn, Kathleen (April 11, 2011). "Lincoln Tunnel Challenge draws thousands of runners". The Record. Bergen County. Retrieved July 20, 2011. 
  16. "Lincoln Tunnel Exclusive Bus Lane Enhancement Study" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 14, 2006. Retrieved April 28, 2007. 
  17. Lavitt, Michael (June 1, 2005). "Making Life Easier for Bus Riders". The Times. Trenton, NJ. 
  18. "New Toll Fare Rates for the Bridges & Tunnels Effective December 6, 2015 at 3:00 AM". Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Retrieved November 23, 2015. 
  19. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 $13 is for cash toll payment; other rates apply for passes

External links