Driving from NYC to NJ this Friday. Crazy?
October 31, 2012 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Driving from NYC (Chelsea) to Piscataway, NJ, this Friday afternoon with a return on Sunday. Is this realistic?

There is a convention I would like to attend this weekend. I have been without electricity & wireless all week, so I have been catching up on news reports the last few hours. Will it take hours to cross the Hudson Friday afternoon? Will there be gas in the Piscataway, NJ area? Is this a bad idea?
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
Have you double-checked that the convention is still occurring?
posted by rhizome at 10:10 PM on October 31, 2012

No one knows, but it probably will take much, much longer than usual, as traffic is gridlocked due to the subway problems; there are plenty of news reports about people taking hours to go a few blocks. Gas is running out in places, too. Chelsea is at least near the Lincoln Tunnel, so you don't need to get to that.

Coming back into the city will likewise be arduous.
posted by akgerber at 10:31 PM on October 31, 2012

This might be nothing, but I just saw a news report this AM about NYPD stopping cars outside the city and only allowing those cars with 3 occupants into the city.

There is a little blurb in this Business Week article (search for the word "carpool"), but I don't know all the specifics. Could be that by the date of your return, it will not be an issue, but worth checking out.
posted by lampshade at 4:57 AM on November 1, 2012

I don't think this is advisable and as a solo drive, it is unlikely to be possible.

NYC is enforcing HOV restrictions for all travel into the city. Cars must have 3 occupants from 6am-midnight Thursday & Friday.


It is also somewhat iffy that the convention hotel/area has power. The power outage in NYC does extend through portions of (if not all of) Chelsea and there is currently no subway service below 34th street.
posted by countrymod at 6:08 AM on November 1, 2012

It could take forever, or it could be really easy. I just swung a ride into Manhattan from Brooklyn, and it wasn't all that bad.

My impression is that there are a lot of people driving who don't typically drive in the city, and have no real sense of route, direction, potential shortcuts, etc. For example, Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn was backed up for miles, yet we were able to cut around onto Flushing Avenue and zip over the Manhattan bridge with no traffic.

So if you know the city well, and are good at staying flexible, it may not be that bad.

On the other hand, it could also be a total clusterfuck, so plan TONS of extra time into your schedule.

I have to drive into New Jersey early next week, so you are in my thoughts. Godspeed.

Gas may be an issue. There were cops at my neighborhood gas station last night there to prevent fights.
posted by Sara C. at 6:09 AM on November 1, 2012

Oops. Ignore me. I read this as the reverse. You may still have the HOV restriction.
posted by countrymod at 6:10 AM on November 1, 2012

Double check with the convention authorities to be sure that it's still going to happen. La Guardia just opened this morning.

Gas can only be dispensed if there's electricity and if the gas station received its shipment, and the gas station is in perfect, working order. Also, in NJ, you can't pump your own gas, so if there isn't someone there to do it for you....

Personally, I'd give it a miss. It's not worth the hassle.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on November 1, 2012

Middlesex, Somerset, and Union Counties haven't got reliable power that I've heard, and that means gas is hard to come by. I doubt getting out of the city will be all that big a problem, and since you can take the interstate pretty much the whole way there (I-287 is basically Main Street for Piscataway) downed trees shouldn't interfere much.

I'd doubt the convention's still on, but you never know. Call the convention organizers or the venue and find out.
posted by asperity at 7:18 AM on November 1, 2012

Kids aren't even in school in most of central NJ, and probably won't go back until Monday. Gas lines/fights are definitely a thing -- in my recently power-restored Middlesex county town (about 20 mins from Piscataway) there are only 2 fuel stations operating, with 70s-style lines snaking around the block and police presence.
posted by apparently at 7:28 AM on November 1, 2012

Gas can only be dispensed if there's electricity and if the gas station received its shipment

I saw a news story this morning -- probably on MSNBC -- about things becoming "very tense" due to the lack of gas availability. It's not necessarily a shortage, but as Ruthless Bunny explains, gas stations need electricity to pump the gas, and the lines of cars (and people with gas cans) are really, really long.

Lots of people are waiting for gas just so they can drive somewhere with electricity to charge their phones, computers...really basic things, so even if the convention is on it doesn't sound like a good idea.

And yet, gas prices are still a dollar cheaper than they are in L.A.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:30 AM on November 1, 2012

MSNBC is reporting that gas miles are 1/2-mile long in places. You can use #njgas & #njopen to find the latest information.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:48 AM on November 1, 2012

Some anecdotal data for you: I know two families who live in Piscataway. One has power, the other doesn't, and isn't supposed to get it back for 7 more days (!). The with-power people, however, have been doing normal work-type activities, and driving, etc. with no significant problems.
posted by chowflap at 10:39 AM on November 1, 2012

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