As of 2007, the George Washington Bridge has the greatest vehicular capacity of any bridge in the world, carrying more than 106 million vehicles every year. According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the bi-state government agency that owns and operates the bridge, that makes the GW Bridge the busiest bridge in the world.
And while all that traffic makes for an interesting statistic, it also makes for massive New York City car rental travel delays in and out of Manhattan. Designed as a connection between the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan and Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey, the George Washington Bridge is a necessary travel evil in the City.
So, how can savvy New York City car rental travelers avoid frustrating waits during their daily commute? We’ve come up with a few help hints and tips to help you maintain your sanity and arrive on time when traveling between Manhattan and New Jersey.
Invest in an E-Z Pass
If you’re going to be taking the GW Bridge regularly during your New York City car rental vacation, you might want to invest in an E-Z Pass automatic toll pass. The normal cash toll for the George Washington Bridge is $12 going from New Jersey into New York (there is no toll when heading the opposite way). E-Z Pass rates are slightly lower, at $9.50 during peak hours (weekdays from 6-10am and 4-8pm, weekends from 11am to 9pm) and $7.50 during off-peak hours. Mounting the E-Z Pass on your window shield won’t just save you money, but it will also enable you to use the special E-Z Pass lanes, which will help you avoid much of the backup at the toll lanes.
Pick Your Travel Times Wisely
If at all possible, don’t try and travel across the George Washington Bridge during rush hour. You’re just asking for a headache. Rush hour on the bridge runs from roughly 5am to 8am and from 4pm to 7pm Monday through Friday. This is when traffic is at its worst.
Pay Attention to Which Bridge Level You Choose To Use
If you want to save some time during your commute, make sure you get on the right bridge level. The bridge has an upper level with four lanes in each direction and a lower level with three lanes in each direction. The wisdom of regular New York City car rental commuters suggests that traveling on the lower level when heading southbound, or into New Jersey, is the quickest. If you’re headed into New York City, take the upper level.
If you can avoid the George Washington Bridge during your daily commute, do it! This slight tweak to your New York City car rental traveler plans could save you hours of frustration. The following are some alternate route options for city travelers:
1) Take the Tappan Zee Bridge
If you’re headed southbound, cross state lines in upstate New York, rather than in the city. The Tappan Zee Bridge is located about 40 miles North of the George Washington Bridge on Interstate 287.
2) Take Interstate 287
If you’re coming from the western bank of the Hudson River, hop on Interstate 287. I-287 leads to the Garden State Parkway, which reconnects with Interstate-95 in the Palisades Park area of New Jersey.
3) Stop and Smell the Garden State Parkway
Ok, don’t actually do this… it smells terrible. The drive is a little less stressful however, especially if your going northbound into New York State or New England. The Garden Parkway is a truck-free road that leads to the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Don’t let your commute over the George Washington Bridge ruin your New York City car rental vacation. Plan ahead and prepare for traffic – it’s the New York way!