Is This Really the Worst Place to Drive in New York?
Forget the Hudson Valley, one local commuter has claimed that this small strip of road in Ulster County is the worst place to drive in the entirety of New York state.
"I commute to the city everyday... I deal with dozens of zipper merges in and out of tunnels, through Manhattan. It's no big deal, no body gets mad, nobody takes it out on each other... But here it's a s**t show all the way around", they claimed. He wasn't alone.
Merging on the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Highland, NY
The quarter-mile stretch of road that has come under fire is the merge before the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Highland, NY. Throughout the day, the three lanes on the bridge alternate between two lanes being open to eastbound traffic in the morning, two lanes open to westbound traffic in the evening (below), and often only one lane open in both directions with the center lane closed. No matter the configuration, however, one side of the bridge requires drivers to merge from two lanes down to one.
Is This the Worst Stretch of Road in New York?
"Literally the worst around here! I’ve driven all over myself. The ignorance is astounding when trying to merge here. No one knows how to zipper!", agreed one angry commuter. "I commute every day across that bridge. It is the absolute worst and couldn't agree with you more!", echoed another. Even someone who represented themselves as an employee of the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) chimed in.
Zipper Merge at the Mid-Hudson Bridge
"You are correct that nobody gets how to zipper merge", commented a man who listed his job as assistant foreman at the NYSBA. "We have moved the cones up before and they end up getting hit more then when they are where they are now because everyone fights to the last second. But yes the people cause the traffic to be worse then it needs to be." So what's the "official" way to merge?
The Correct Way to Merge
Despite what many drivers may think, it does not save time, nor does it help traffic run more smoothly, if a driver merges early from a lane that is ending. While no one should be jostling for position at the end of the lane (the "zipper" technique of alternating vehicles is correct here), drivers should safely take advantage of both lanes for as long as possible to ensure the smoothest flow of traffic (above).
The best piece of advice, however, is to just relax. While it's easier said than done, even a 30-mile commute is only extended by six minutes if you get stuck behind someone going 10 miles-per-hour slower than you'd usually drive, let alone if you merge on to the bridge ahead or behind of one extra car. Practice your newfound driving knowledge when you go on one of these unforgettable New York road trips below.