178th-179th Street Tunnels

178th-179th Street Tunnels

The 178th and 179th Street Tunnels are defunct vehicular tunnels in Upper Manhattan in the state of New York. They are no longer in use, having been taken out of service as a result of construction of the Trans-Manhattan Expressway, which lies between them, from 1958 to 1962.

Immediately after World War II, Robert Moses authorized construction of a bypass through the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan that would connect the George Washington Bridge with highways in the Bronx. This bypass would be the predecessor to the Trans-Manhattan Expressway. Between 1938 and 1952, two 2-lane tunnels were constructed by the Port of New York Authority from the George Washington Bridge on the west to the approaches of the Washington Bridge and the Harlem River Drive (which was then under construction) on the east. Eastbound traffic used the 178th Street Tunnel, while westbound tunnel used the 179th Street Tunnel. Construction began on March 17, 1949, and the tunnel's reinforced concrete shell was completed on June 21, 1951. Both tunnels were designed in traditional Moses-style, utilizing stone-faced arch portals and "Whitestone" lightposts. Viaducts with single circular supports that connected the tunnels with the Washington Bridge are still in use today.

However, after five years, traffic demands had increased such that they rendered the tunnels obsolete. Furthermore, the ventilation buildings of the tunnels were situated such that they would be functionally obsolete for future expansion of the lower deck of the George Washington Bridge. In 1958, expansion of the George Washington Bridge and construction of the Trans-Manhattan Expressway began and the ventilation buildings for the tunnels were demolished sometime in the early 1960s as a result. The tunnels were then abandoned, but the new expressway opened in 1962 and was far better equipped to handle the traffic demands of the day.

There are talks to rehabilitate the tunnels and reuse them, according to the "Bronx Arterial Needs Major Investment Study," to improve traffic in the region, but as of right now, they are currently being used for storage by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The 178th Street Tunnel is the only one of the two tunnels that has a concrete stub remaining from the old ramp design. In addition, it used to connect with southbound Harlem River Drive, but that ramp was demolished, leaving a stub on Harlem River Drive.


* [http://www.nycroads.com/roads/trans-manhattan Trans-Manhattan Expressway (Interstate 95, US 1 and US 9)]

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