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Bloomberg Restricts Traffic on Bridges to Cars With 3 or More Passengers

By Jill Colvin | October 31, 2012 3:27pm | Updated on October 31, 2012 11:29pm

NEW YORK CITY — Drivers will be forced to carpool if they want to enter Manhattan for the rest of the week.

Only cars with three or more people will be allowed to cross the four East River bridges into Manhattan on Thursday and Friday between 6 a.m. and midnight, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday, as the city struggled with nightmare traffic in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The rules will also apply to the Henry Hudson Bridge, the Triborough Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel, but not the George Washington Bridge, Bloomberg said.

The lower level of the Manhattan Bridge will also be reserved for two-way bus travel Thursday and Friday, the Department of Transportation said.

“I know it is inconvenient for a lot of people, but the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much," said Bloomberg, who said the move was intended to help prevent the rush of traffic that choked the city Wednesday as all subways remained closed.

Bloomberg warned that Manhattan-bound cars attempting to access bridges without the required number of occupants would simply be turned away.

“We’re just not going to let you in," he said. "We'll stop you."

He said the city would be trying to set up a system to help people find car shares before they crossed the bridges.

“Hopefully we can find ways for you to pick up people who will be standing by the bridges," he said. "They’ve got a problem of getting in, you’re they’re solution."

Taxis are supposed to be picking up multiple passengers, but many are refusing to make extra stops.

The city will also be establishing emergency bus lanes "on key corridors across the city," Bloomberg announced.

To help straphangers trying to travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, 330 shuttle buses will be running from three locations: Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, Jay Street-MetroTech and Hewes Street in Williamsburg, dropping passengers off at 57th Street and Lexington Avenue.

The Atlantic Avenue and Jay Street routes will run along a new, two-way bus lane across the Manhattan Bridge into Manhattan and then via priority bus lanes on Bowery and Third Avenue. Buses along those routes with then stop at major cross streets all the way up to East 55th Street in the inbound direction, and via priority bus lanes on Lexington Avenue, East 23rd Street, Third Avenue and Bowery back to Brooklyn.

The shuttles from Hewes Street will travel over the Williamsburg Bridge up Delancey Street and over to Third Avenue via Bowery then heading up to East 55th Street before returning Downtown via Lexington Avenue, East 23rd Street, Third Avenue and Bowery.

The NYPD will be providing enforcement along the routes to keep them clear, and service will run 24 hours a day.

Taxis will be exempt from the carpool rule from 4 p.m. to midnight so that cabbies can switch shifts, as will buses and emergency vehicles.

Outbound vehicles are also unaffected by the rules.

Alternate side parking will also be suspended Thursday and Friday, though parking meters and all other parking rules will turn back up Thursday.