Given the Hurrican, should I drive from Toronto to New York?
October 30, 2012 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Is it totally crazy to drive to NY tomorrow, Wed, Oct 31st?

I have been reading everything I can online and it appears that now that the storm is abating, the only main concerns are power outages close to New York City (i.e street lights etc).

I am factoring in extra time for detours. I have the live google disaster maps, a 4WD SUV, roadside assistance, another driver, and my destination isn't a problem in New York (they have power etc.).

Everyone I tell about this says I should not go. I think I have enough bases covered. Obviously it isn't optimal but I need to go.

Is it ridiculous to try and make this journey? Am I missing any information?
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (23 answers total)
I don't know about getting in to the city, but there are plenty of cars driving around the city. I think the tunnels are still closed, so you'll have to take a bridge in.
posted by greta simone at 9:02 PM on October 30, 2012

Parking will presumably be extra-bad because the subway is totally shut down - so there'll be a lot more cars on the road than usual, plus all the busses replacing the subways.

If you can actually describe your situation as "need to go," I think you'll be fine, assuming your actual path doesn't take you into a still-flooded area, you're prepared to sit in a lot of traffic, and you have a plan for parking.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:05 PM on October 30, 2012

Where in the city, specifically, are you trying to go? There's a huge range in terms of damage and access.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:33 PM on October 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Where are you coming from, and what part of the city are you heading to? Where will you be staying? The bridges are open to the public again, though not the tunnels. In Manhattan, the city is without power below 39th Street. In the outer boroughs, the areas near the shores (Zone A) are the ones still without power. The subways are not running and most schools are still closed, but if you're just walking around in other, less affected neighborhoods, you might not notice anything worse than some downed trees or other aftermath of a bad rainstorm. I would advise giving yourself lots of time at the bridges and try to come up with a plan for parking.
posted by lgandme0717 at 9:34 PM on October 30, 2012

Someone on my facebook claims to have driven into Manhattan from Brooklyn today for work, and that it was fine with no problems.

I'm not sure whether I truly believe that, or what "no problems" really means.

I think it strongly depends where you're coming from. If you could get into Manhattan by driving over one of the simple old East River bridges that was reopened early Tuesday, sure. Why not try?

If you're deep in Jersey or Westchester and hoping to detour around to a bridge that may or may not be open, I wouldn't chance it.

Parking is another potential problem. Even in neighborhoods that were not hard hit, there are trees down, debris in the gutters, and people parked haphazardly.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 PM on October 30, 2012

I don't know that traffic will be that bad. The subway's not running, but most offices I know of are closed tomorrow. My guess is that it'll be the same as usual, or maybe better. I think traffic is likely to be worse later in the week, as offices reopen but the subways remain messed up (though probably not totally closed).

However, there's no power in Manhattan south of 39th St., and with the downed trees and general mayhem, parking may be even more problematic than usual. I doubt you'll have any real problems, and I'd guess I wouldn't not do it you have to, but don't bother if you can avoid it.

Oh, and your SUV with 4WD isn't likely to make things any easier - at this point, your biggest worries are parking problems, detours, and maybe traffic. The floodwaters have receded.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:07 PM on October 30, 2012

Lincoln Tunnel's still open.

You probably will need to factor in time to route around areas without power (and therefore traffic lights) and that are blocked.

All of the NJ Turnpike except exit 15W (I-280: Newark, Kearny, The Oranges) is open. The Thruway and I-81 in Pennsylvania appear to be open.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:11 PM on October 30, 2012

Also, the roadside assistance may be less effective if the people providing it can't get to work, which is entirely possible once you get past Scranton.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:14 PM on October 30, 2012

Take two extra 2.5 gallon cans of whatever fuel your vehicle uses.
posted by thewalrus at 11:54 PM on October 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

As of yesterday people in NJ were being told to stay off the road - partly for safety and partly to make it easier for first responders to get around. If you are coming in from Toronto you would prob not go through Jersey, of course, but you might check the news bulletins for the areas you'll be driving through if you haven't already.
posted by bunderful at 4:34 AM on October 31, 2012

Parking is also likely to be a real issue - with trees down and trucks dealing with debris, plus delivery trucks that will finally be coming in to the city after not being able to for the last two days (not just UPS and packages, but supermarkets and drug stores which need massive restocking), street parking is likely to be hard to find, and most garages will be full from the overflow.

Right now it looks like you're weighing your choice against how dangerous it will be for you. Please also keep in mind that what the city needs right now is to recover as quickly as possible, and having extra cars getting in the way of that is more dangerous for a lot of people. If you genuinely don't need to be here, I suggest staying home until the trains are running again. If you do need to be here, see if there's an alternate way to get what you need done without coming in - delegate someone who's already here, meet via skype, etc.
posted by Mchelly at 4:38 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

Just drove in from Westchester. 287, Sprain, Cross County, Saw Mill, Henry Hudson, West Side Hwy all fine. Midtown traffic a bit slow around 57th and Eighth where roads are blocked for that broken crane. All in all quite doable.
posted by MattD at 4:57 AM on October 31, 2012

The traffic on the bridges and tunnels might be a little slow, but everything is okay. Just be careful of the wet leaves, it's very slippery.
posted by Yellow at 5:11 AM on October 31, 2012

I drove through lower Manhattan yesterday. It was HORRIFYING. There's no streetlights south of the 30s, and there's no cops directing traffic. I really thought it was curtains for me.

Everywhere else is fine, of course, though traffic patterns are ALL CRAZY. I mean here in Brooklyn we're all eating at nice restaurants and enjoying our staycations.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:21 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

What the heck is so important that you need to be in a disaster area?

I worked for the phone company for eons, and I worked on disaster restoration for hurricanes Andrew and Katrina (among other things). You would be amazed at how un-together things are after a disaster. Just because where you want to go has power, doesn't mean things are back to normal, not by a long shot.

For example, your ATM card may not work, do you have enough cash? (ATMs were out last night in Atlanta for cripes sake!)

As you get closer to affected areas, gas stations may not be working due to power outages or may be shut down due to damage.

Do you know your way around enough to navigate without street signs? (sure GPS solves a lot of this, but you'd be surprised how lost you can be without the usual landmarks.)

The most important thing during a natural disaster is to get out of the way of people who are doing restoration work.

If you have a legitimate reason to be in New York, then go. If you can put it off until next week. Do that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:14 AM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

here in Brooklyn we're all eating at nice restaurants and enjoying our staycations.

Maybe in your small part of Brooklyn. Coney Island, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Red Hook (among MANY other neighborhoods in NYC) are terrible disaster areas. There is massive flooding, trees down, power out, and in many areas, sewage backing up.

Agree 100% with Ruthless Bunny. The only people who should be coming to NY are people trying to help with aid and repair.
posted by RRgal at 6:30 AM on October 31, 2012

p.s. some parts of the NYC subway will not be usable for weeks. Some stations had water up to the ceiling, spilling out into the street. And this water (besides being corrosive saltwater which destroyed the electrical components of those stations and tunnels) contained grease, steel dust, and garbage/debris from the tracks. The signal system in those areas will have to be completely rebuilt.
posted by RRgal at 6:36 AM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

unless you're coming in to fix shit or help people get safe, stay out.

if you want better advice you need to tell us exactly where you're going and where you're coming from. the situation really varies depending on your destination.
posted by pupus at 8:44 AM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have co-worker trying to get to the Penn Station area from Washington Heights by car. They've been stuck in traffic for three hours.
posted by kimdog at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2012

OK, having now come into Manhattan myself, my answer is officially:


That said, subway service on some lines is set to resume tomorrow in a limited capacity, and buses seem to be bouncing back. So I feel like going forward, it's going to be less impossible to get into/around the city on four wheels. But still, if I could have avoided coming here today, I sure as hell would have.
posted by Sara C. at 11:47 AM on October 31, 2012

As far as I can gather, there will only be "shortline" subway service starting tomorrow (Thursday), i.e. service generally only within each borough and incomplete at that. There will be no subway service from Brooklyn into Manhattan, and only one or two lines in Queens continuing into Manhattan.. The subway river tubes are too heavily flood-damaged. Changing to a bus for service into the city would be necessary on most routes, and as there are not nearly enough buses to accommodate trainloads full of people, getting around NYC will be extremely difficult for some time to come.
posted by RRgal at 7:21 PM on October 31, 2012

thewalrus, you were right on the money with the extra fuel suggestion. needless to say.
thanks all.
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2012

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