Saturday, April 9, 2016

Crash on the Cross Bronx Expressway

Driving to Long Island to visit Mom involves tackling a major hurdle - getting through New York City. There are a number of options, none ideal. Most of the time we take the Outerbridge Crossing (named after Eugenius Outerbridge, Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) from New Jersey to Staten Island. The highway leading to the bridge consists of multiple lanes of traffic. Cars whiz by while vehicles criss-cross lanes, moving from the far left across six lanes of traffic within a few seconds to access the exit ramp, the driver too distracted by a phone conversation or whatever to notice the exit fast approaching. 

We drive across Staten Island, cross the Verrazano Bridge and then spend anywhere from 45 minutes to hours on the Belt Parkway meandering through Brooklyn.

On our way to the city we listen to local traffic broadcasts, helpfully updated every 10 minutes. If reports sound ominous due to massive traffic jams caused by construction and/or an accident, we opt for an alternate route.

One alternative is through Manhattan, but we only attempt this journey on a Sunday morning. The streets of Manhattan present interesting people, sites and spectacles, but traffic could keep us on the road for hours.

Another alternative entails continuing north on the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway to the George Washington Bridge, crossing northern Manhattan and the Bronx (always the Bronx, never Bronx, no idea why) on the Cross Bronx Expressway, one of the worst roadways in the world. Take my word for it. Avoid anytime of the day, any day of the year. Don't believe me? Read The Bonfire of the Vanities. But I digress...

Drivers must pay for the privilege of entering the city on all routes. The George Washington Bridge toll is $15. It is a one-way toll, but we also pay an $8 toll on the Throgs Neck Bridge linking the Bronx and Queens.

FYI: If unfamiliar with New York City, it is composed of five boroughs: Staten Island, Manhattan (also an island), the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Queens and Brooklyn are on Long Island. The Bronx is not an island but part of the land mass north of Manhattan commonly known as the rest of New York State. A borough is an administrative unit, like a county, but traditionally a walled municipality. I wonder if that is where Trump, a NYC native, got the idea for his wall?...

Please take me back to the toll-less, uncrowded, uncomplicated, open roads out West.

There must be a country song there somewhere...

Friday afternoon hub was driving, and as the driver enjoyed the privilege of deciding which route to take across the city. He selected the George Washington Bridge.

The George Washington contains two roadways, an upper and lower level. Since 9/11 trucks are banned on the lower level. Approaching the bridge huge signs over the highway warned of heavy traffic on the upper level. Taking the hint, we drove onto the lower level. 

Everything went well until high above the Hudson River, halfway across the bridge. We could see the red lights of cars ahead as vehicles slowed to a crawl and stopped. 

Bumper to bumper traffic greeted our entry into the Big Apple.

We decelerated from 40 or 50 miles per hour down to 10 and 5 miles per hour. Gas mileage on our Mazda plummeted. The car inched along. At the end of the bridge the road diverged onto two thoroughfares. Taking the right fork known as I-95 and locally the Cross Bronx Expressway, hub maneuvered his way across merging lanes, still creeping along at 5-10 mph.

Suddenly I hear a loud CRUNCH - BAM - SCRUNCH.

"Oh...(expletives deleted)...Did you hit another car?" I sat up straight in my seat and turned to hub.

"No. A truck hit us." He stopped the car in the middle of the highway and got out.

Turning around in my seat I see part of a BFT (big f**king truck), the bumper and front panel kissing our car's back window. 

It was 3:15 p.m.

I remained in the car. Hub stuck his head in the window and said, "Call 911."

Hub and the truck driver steered the vehicles to the side of the road. Carefully examining our car, hub reported damage involved the bumper, back left light and body misalignment. Not serious, but there is no such thing as low-cost auto body work.

I explained what happened to the 911 dispatcher. The truck driver also called 911.

Hub and the driver exchanged information.

Because no one was hurt and both vehicles drivable, the police told us to get the vehicles off the road ASAP. A policeman would be (might be, could be) along in a couple of hours.

Hub and the truck driver decided not to wait for a possibly phantom policeman to maybe arrive. 

We drove off.

After my 9-1-1 conversation I called our insurance company. A lengthy discussion followed, the insurance adjuster asking lots of questions and filing a detailed report.

We have an appointment Monday with a body shop near our home for an estimate on car repairs. 

Hub bought a roll of tape and covered the broken light. It is supposed to rain and snow during our New York visit. He does not want the electrical system to get wet and short out.

We drove the rest of the way in slow but moving traffic and met Mom at a local deli, breathing a sigh of relief and settling into a relaxing dinner, glad the afternoon's episode over.

During dinner my cell phone rang, but I did not answer. The display read, "No caller ID." I ignored it. When it rang again a couple of minutes later hub grabbed the phone. A minute later he hung up.

"So who was it?" I innocently asked.

"9-1-1. They wanted to know what happened to us."

"Oh." I guess I should have answered the phone.

Soon I will write a check to cover our insurance deductible. Ouch!

Oh well. We are fine, and that is what is important.

The other relevant fact to note is that I was not driving. Just sayin...


  1. Scary. But as you say, you are fine, and that is what is important.

  2. Glad you weren't injured. Driving there sounds as crazy as L.A.'s freeways. I don't enjoy driving them anymore, but do some to the ocean, just not usually into L.A. or that impacted airport.

    Your reference to all the islands and the wall reminded me of all the speculation I've heard about how those islands might be affected by rising ocean waters with icebergs melting and wonder if you hear talk there, or of plans, to adapt for that possibility?

    1. Superstorm Sandy was a wake up call for the city. Now everyone talks, talks, and talks, and maybe, someday, real progress will be made. There are predictions that the southern tip of Manhattan may eventually be inundated. But by then today's politicians will be long out of office and therefore cannot be blamed!

  3. Glad it was no worse. You know, I was just thinking about how long it has been since I visited NYC and maybe I should plan a short trip there, Now I think, never mind!

    1. Take the train or a bus into the city. No traffic, no tolls, no parking hassles or fees.

  4. Glad you are okay. I wonder why you had to pay your deductible since it wasn't your fault. I had a fender bender a year ago and since it was my fault I paid, but I was pleased that my insurer didn't raise my rates. First accident in twenty years. :-)

    1. Hopefully the insurance company won't raise our rates...New York state - where the accident occurred - has something called proportional fault. We may get a small percentage of our deductible reimbursed, but not counting on it.

  5. Just awful. I wrote a longer comment but it went astray. Happens a lot for me when I visit your site.

  6. This is why we don't drive through Manhattan anymore. When we are forced to (to see grandkids) I usually hold onto the overhead strap and shut my eyes tight!. I can't stand it!!!
    Glad you are all safe.
    PS: I despise those trucks!