The tunnel I fear most

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” – Corrie Ten Boom

NEW YORK CITY –– Of all the tunnels I have crossed, it’s the Lincoln Tunnel that doesn’t only give me cold creeps but also a dyed-in-the-wool goosebumps.

When I first crossed the tunnel three years ago, I had an eerie feeling; it’s like entering a hole with no assurance to see a light at the end.

The phobia was similar when I was “trapped” for about 12 minutes in a stranded 7 train from Queens to Manhattan in Fall of 2017.

I felt like being locked inside a calaboose; I could pass out had the train was delayed for another five to 10 minutes.

The feeling revisited me again when the van I was riding before the Holy Week had to spend some 20 minutes doing detours in the dizzying Weehawken roads to avoid traffic before finally reaching the tunnel’s mouth.

It normally takes the rider a good five minutes before emerging from the tunnel.

The 1.5-mile-long (2.4 km) Lincoln Tunnel, opened to traffic for the first time in 1937, connects Weehawken, New Jersey to Midtown Manhattan.

If we don’t take a ferry boat or train, we pass through this tunnel, much heralded as the next great engineering triumph, from New York City to New Jersey City vice versa.




The tunnel is 95 feet underwater at its deepest point, and cost about $1.5 billion to build, reportedly adjusting for inflation.

It reportedly sees upwards of 120,000 cars passing through every day on the average, making it one of the busiest roadways in the United States.

Its separate bus lane sees about 1,700 buses every morning, primarily bringing its 62,000 commuters to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Manhattan’s 42nd Street.

This was the second tunnel funded by the New Deal’s Public Work’s Administration in 1934, fresh off the success of the northern Holland Tunnel, the first mechanically ventilated underwater automobile tunnel to be built under the Hudson River.

A second tube was built shortly after the Lincoln Tunnel’s first, with a third requested due to increasing traffic built in the late 1950s.

The three tunnels service hundreds of thousands of cars and buses coming in and out of New York City to this day.

I find it more relaxing to take the train or bus when I travel from New York to New Jersey vice versa.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)