Traffic relief

GCT, Port Authority, truckers work together to solve traffic snafu

What was an extremely frustrating situation for commuters just two weeks ago may be solved now – at least for the time being – as early-morning delays on the eastbound New Jersey Turnpike’s Newark Bay Extension have dissipated almost as quickly as they had appeared.
From Monday, April 6 to Tuesday, April 14, there were numerous reports of unprecedented tie-ups on the stretch of roadway from Newark Turnpike exchange 14, to Bayonne’s 14A, and down toward the GCT Terminal that straddles Bayonne and Jersey City.
On Thursday, April 9, a three-and-one-half-mile delay had been reported. On April 14, a commuter to Hoboken said that his passage through the area and trip to work was the longest he had ever experienced.
During the first few days of the problems, the New Jersey Turnpike even went so far as to issue a press release to say the delays were not attributable to the authority’s reconstruction project of Exchange 14A which began a few weeks ago.
The problem seemed to stem from trucks traveling to and returning from the GCT Bayonne marine terminal.
Much of the traffic was attributed to truckers arriving at the GCT gate as early as 4:30 or 5 a.m., ahead of the terminal’s 6 a.m. opening time, according to Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman.
The groundwork for the solution may have been laid at a meeting on Tuesday, April 14, which included representatives of GCT, the Port Authority, the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD), the New Jersey Turnpike, and the administrations of Bayonne and Jersey City.
At that meeting, the discussion centered around the tie-ups being the result of truckers arriving prior to the opening of the GCT gates at 6 a.m., forming a queue of rigs that was holding up other commuters coming into Bayonne and Jersey City and passing through the area, according to Coleman.
The road leading to the port opens at 5:30 a.m., according to John Atkins, president of GCT USA, responsible for the company’s terminals in New York and Bayonne. He said that terminal operators in the Port of New York and New Jersey do not schedule truck arrivals.
The Port Authority is the landlord of the terminal; GCT is the tenant and operator.
“This was a traffic mitigation meeting held on April 14. We were looking to coordinate with all local jurisdictions,” Coleman said on April 20. “Primarily, the goal has been to lessen the impact on the local community. I think for the most part, we’ve been able to do that in the past week.”
The Port Authority assisted by assigning police to the area to ensure that the truck line did not start too early.


“Primarily, the goal has been to lessen the impact on the local community. I think for the most part, we’ve been able to do that in the past week.” – Steve Coleman


The PAPD also modified the time its morning-shift officers relieve its overnight-shift officers, no longer making the switch at 6 a.m.
The changing of the shifts left a void in police coverage during the critical early morning rush-hour patrols, when most of the backups were occurring, according to Coleman.
“We changed the shift turnover process so that there’s no interruption of police coverage out there during the morning hours, when the traffic has been a problem,” he said.
The PAPD was also concentrating its efforts on encouraging the trucking community to use all the GCT gate hours, not just those in the morning.
GCT had contributed to the solution by extending its afternoon gate closing from 4 to 6 p.m., Atkins said. The terminal also opened its gates the last two Saturdays, and will continue to open on an as-needed basis.

Return to normal

By Wednesday, April 15, traffic had returned to its previous levels, one commuter said. On Thursday, April 16 at 7:30 a.m. there were no trucks seen on the turnpike connector bridge for long stretches of time. A quarter of an hour later, few trucks were seen coming off the Casciano Bridge toward Bayonne Exchange 14A.
The only traffic backup on April 16 seemed to be those leaving Bayonne as it neared 8 a.m. Several trucks in a row were visible heading back toward the turnpike from the connector bridge, as they attempted to reenter the turnpike.

Future solutions

Atkins said that an appointment system for truckers, being worked on for a launch later in the year, would help the situation.
Other longer range plans include the construction of the Greenville Rail Yard, which will help in moving products by rail rather than trucks, and the operation of an intermodal container transfer facility.
When the transfer facility is completed, it will divert 15 percent of the containers from the terminal from truck to rail transportation, according to Atkins.
Planned road improvements to Port Jersey Boulevard are also expected to help move traffic along.
Coleman said the Port Authority had not received any complaints in the last week, and that the traffic on Monday, April 20 was “extremely light.”
He also said no drivers were being ticketed for being in the queue of trucks.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at comment on this story online visit

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