Repairs to begin this weekend on Route 495 into NYC
After closing temporarily for repairs earlier this week, the Route 495 approach to the Lincoln Tunnel will undergo permanent repairs beginning this weekend, resulting in commuter delays.
The two right lanes on the I-495 east bridge in North Bergen were closed on Wednesday as crews began repairs on a damaged bridge deck joint. The work resulted in major commuter delays on Wednesday evening. All lanes reopened on Thursday morning.
The two lanes will be shut down again beginning Friday at 9 p.m. as permanent repairs commence. According to the Department of Transportation, work will continue until the repairs are complete. Commuters are advised to find alternative routes into New York City.
Oktoberfest this weekend
The 141st annual German-American Volksfest takes place on Sunday, Aug. 16 from noon to 8 p.m. at Schuetzen Park, 3167 Kennedy Blvd. Tickets are $5 (children under 12 free) and all proceeds benefit the Fritz Reuter Altenheim, a tax-exempt, not-for-profit retirement community for citizens over 70 years old, along with other charities. The event will feature music beginning at 1 p.m. featuring the Austrian Boys Band. The Little Miss Schuetzen Park Contest takes place at 3 p.m., with Bavarian folk dancers and children’s entertainment rounding out the festivities. Food available for purchase will include award-winning potato pancakes and other German specialties like bratwurst, along with coffee and cakes. German and Weissbief will be on tap all day, and plenty of Jaegermeister. For more information visit volksfest.org or call (201) 865-0868.
Hundreds of millions spent on scrapped ARC tunnel may go to waste
Nearly $1.2 billion from New Jersey taxpayers, users of the Port Authority’s toll roads, bridges, tunnels and airports, and from the federal government, has been spent on the so-far failed effort to expand rail access across the Hudson, and according to a story in The Record, hundreds of millions of dollars will be lost forever, spent on lawyers, environmental studies and other costs that will never be recovered.
The paper based its story on “new information obtained from the Port Authority, NJ Transit and other government agencies.”
Gov. Christopher Christie canceled a planned new rail tunnel known as Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) in October 2010, claiming New Jersey taxpayers would be unduly burdened with the cost of its construction. The project would have doubled train service between New Jersey and New York after it was to open in 2018.
So far, commuters and taxpayers have little more to show for the expenditures except a fleet of new NJ Transit trains and the rights to property that may become useful in the future. But that potential hinges on the fate of Amtrak’s unfunded plan to build its own tunnel under the Hudson.
The long-term effect of Christie’s cancellation became clear in recent weeks as a series of breakdowns and electrical failures near New York Penn Station repeatedly crippled train service in New Jersey at the height of rush hour.
Experts predict failures of this sort are likely to continue and worsen until new tunnels are built. The existing tunnels are 105 years old, and are deteriorating rapidly due to flooding from Superstorm Sandy, the story quotes Amtrak as saying.
New Jersey forfeited $3.3 billion in federal support for the ARC tunnel, money that was spent instead on transit projects in California and other states. Under the leadership of Christie appointees, the Port Authority redirected another $3 billion from ARC to road projects in New Jersey, including $1.8 billion to rebuild the Pulaski Skyway.
That decision is under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission as to whether bondholders were misled when told the New Jersey road projects would benefit the Lincoln Tunnel.
The roads in question are miles away from the tunnel.
Amtrak has proposed a project called Gateway that calls for a tunnel, a new train station next to Penn Station, a new rail yard in New Jersey, new bridges over the Hackensack River, and two new tracks between Newark and New York Penn Station.
But Amtrak must get financing for the project approved by the Republican-led Congress, which just passed a bill to cut Amtrak’s funding by $242 million.
Then Amtrak must start planning the tunnel almost from scratch, beginning with an environmental review that could take years.
17th ‘Fiesta in America’ showcases Asian American products, services this weekend
Fiesta in America, the largest indoor gathering of Filipinos in the northeast, is coming to the Meadowlands Expo Center on Aug. 15 and 16. With the theme of “Filipinos Mean Business,” the two-day event aims to showcase Asian American products and services.
Part trade show and part entertainment event, the fiesta will showcase products that include apparel, jewelry, shoes, cosmetics, and textiles, as well as financial services and real estate. Free workshop will cater to small businesses and self-improvement.
“It is a conscious effort to portray the Filipino American market as an important source of high-income consumers for mainstream businesses that have significant stakes in ethnic marketing,” said Vice President for Marketing Len Manansala, who expects an audience of about 10,000 attendees.
Also featured will be a food court offering native cuisine, and concerts beginning at 5 p.m. each night. Filipino and U.S. musicians and dancers will perform, along with headlining Filipino actresses Vina Morales and Maxine Magalona, and television star Edgar Allan Guzman.
The event runs from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15 and resumes at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning for Mass, ending at 9 p.m. Tickets on the day of the show are $25 per adult and $18 for students and seniors.
Stranded cat rescued from base of Route 3 bridge
On Saturday Aug. 8 at approximately 3:30 p.m., a passing boat notified authorities of a cat stranded on the base of the Route 3 West bridge. The Secaucus Fire Department launched Marine 2 to investigate. Upon arrival they discovered a cat walking along the wooden structure that protects the bridge pylons just above the Hackensack River. Efforts to catch the cat were unsuccessful so a trap was set and within a few hours the SFD returned with Animal Control to find the cat inside. He was safely removed and taken to the animal shelter. How the cat was able to find his way to the bottom of the bridge has not been determined.