Research & Innovation

Stevens Pulaski Skyway Study: Closure to Increase Commutes 30-40% or More, Cost $750 Million in Lost Time

Traffic and commuting are constant factors in the daily life of a resident in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area. On a good day, an average employed person travels anywhere between 45-60 minutes to work; imagine a bad day. Beginning next week, for commuters and the community around the Jersey City area, bad days are about to begin.

On April 12, 2014, the historic Pulaski Skyway will be closing to northbound traffic for approximately two years. Although the 81-year-old steel truss bridge is in dire need of rehabilitation, the impact of the skyway closure on the traffic pattern, the commute, and the local economy is of huge concern to residents and governing bodies of the region.

As part of a systems resilience study, researchers in the School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens have created an intelligence simulation video on the Pulaski Skyway closure.  

“As a research study, the video analyzes the existing traffic patterns of the Skyway, highlights the alternate routes that commuters can use after the closure, discusses the traffic congestion on the alternate routes, and concludes that in a best-case scenario the commute time for an average person would go up by 30-40 percent. Using the best-case conservative estimate, and using wage statistics for the state of New Jersey, the cost of this additional time increase of 30-40 percent could ultimately result in over $750 million in wage-hours impacted, highlighting the importance of policies that can minimize the effect of the closure," said Dr. Jose Emmanuel Ramirez-Marquez, associate professor and division director of engineering management.

“The real impact is on the quality of human life," he added. "The longer a person is on the road, the less time he/she spends with the family. Expenses go up as alternate routes might have tolls, or be lengthier, resulting in higher gas consumption. Many people opt to take public transportation, which is very expensive in metro areas. Additionally, there is a colossal loss to local business owners as labor and customers both slow down due to altered traffic patterns. Above all, if there are any other systems, infrastructure or human failures that transpire during the upkeep of the Skyway, the economic and social damage to the city would be catastrophic.

“At the School of Systems and Enterprises, we study the impact that natural and man-made disasters are having on our economical, environmental, urban, and human enterprise. Our simulations are an effort to delve deep into the systems matrix that we all exist in, and come up with solutions that can help local and global problems."