NJ 495 Freeway






TOTAL SCORE = 19.0 (out of 50)

Reviewed by: Steve Alpert
Last Traveled: 2004



I do not see how this highway was ever meant to be I-495. Cut through the rocks of New Jersey's Palisades, six lanes are squeezed on a roadway that can barely handle four, and with Interstate-standard shoulders and lane widths, would only have two lanes! To make matters worse, not
only do the rock cuts prevent widening, but from its inception this highway also has needed at least ten lanes, and the problem is worsening. There are chronic delays in BOTH directions, usually lasting from 20 minutes to an hour. The Lincoln Tunnel, at six lane capacity, needs so much more room that the traffic lights at the eastern end of the tunnel can cause stop-and-go traffic stretching all the way back to the tollbooths in New Jersey. Even when free-flowing (which is never; the best it gets is probably LOS B-/C+ in the early morning hours), the narrowness and age of the highway make it a terrible place to drive.

The speed limit is 50 MPH, but traffic is hard-pressed to move that fast. Trucks in the right lanes, blind merges, and quick off-ramps combine with the 30-MPH approach loop to the tunnel to create a very hazardous driving situation.

Traffic from the eastbound Weehawken exit frequently spills over into the right two lanes of NJ 495, and the right lane of westbound NJ 495 is often closed to allow Weehawken traffic to merge after Park Avenue. Having the left westbound lane as an eastbound bus lane in the morning helps only marginally, even though the density of the region is such that buses and other public transportation are packed just as tight as the roadways.

Topping it off, pavement is maintained decently, and signage is generally good (though it suffers from a lack of advance warning for most exits). Signs near the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) are old but have held up pretty well, while motorists at the beginning of eastbound NJ 495 are welcomed by a rash of shiny green signs.

The only things saving this highway from 1's in three rating categories are that traffic is moving too slowly to allow too many accidents, it is possible sometimes to drive the speed limit, and there is a great view of downtown NYC at the eastern end of the straightaway.

NJ 495 shield by Ralph Herman.

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