The PWA (Public Works Administration) was formed in 1933. Like all the other programs that comprised President Roosevelt’s New Deal, the PWA was designed to help kick-start an economy devastated by depression. The focus of the PWA was public works projects (bridges, dams, roads, schools, etc.), which would create thousands of jobs. The people hired would be paid, and would in turn spend their money on goods and services, thereby stimulating the economy. And though PWA was only around for six years, it was responsible for the start of thousands of projects all over the country.
Much ink has been used (and probably a little blood shed) arguing over the merits of Roosevelt’s New Deal…it helped spur the economy and bring the U.S. out of the Great Depression…it infused into American culture a massive influx of entitlement programs and government control. So much ink, in fact, that I don’t need to spend any time on it. My opinion doesn’t matter anyways. What we need is a history lesson of some kind…it’s been four days, after all.
On December 22, 1937, a PWA-funded project was completed as the first two lanes of the Lincoln Tunnel were opened for business. Construction on the Tunnel, which runs under the Hudson River and connects New York’s Manhattan with New Jersey’s Weehawken, began in 1934 and cost $75,000,000.
Its first year in service didn’t see much use, as just 1.8 million cars passed through the 8,200-foot tunnel (which averages out to about 3.5 cars per minute). But there weren’t nearly as many cars around in the 1930s, and with the arrival of the Second World War, resource rationing cut into the overall traffic even more.
But that’s not the case today. Two more lanes were opened in 1945, with another two built and pressed into service a dozen years later. As part of I-495, the Lincoln Tunnel routinely sees more than 120,000 cars pass through each day (83.3 cars per minute).