The 178th and 179th Street Tunnels are two defunct vehicular tunnels in Upper Manhattan in New York City. Originally conceived and constructed under the auspices of Robert Moses, the twin tunnels have been superseded by the Trans-Manhattan Expressway in Washington Heights, which itself runs through a cut with high-rise apartments built over it in places.
In the 1950s, the Trans-Manhattan Expressway (I-95) was constructed as a high-speed interstate bypass of the tunnels, and by 1962, the two tunnels were out of commission. Both Tunnels are now are being used by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as storage space.
The tunnels were built to carry traffic between the east side of Upper Manhattan and the George Washington Bridge (which opened in 1931) on the west side. Originally, only the 178th Street Tunnel existed, being constructed in 1940 and serving both directions. Construction began on the 179th Street Tunnel in March 1949 and was completed over two years later. At that time, the 178th Street Tunnel was reconfigured to serve eastbound traffic only, while the 179th served the westbound. The two tunnels had a similar display, with a stone arch for portals and "Whitestone" light posts.
After the end of World War II, New York public works baron Robert Moses started work on a bypass in Manhattan of the Washington Heights area to serve the George Washington Bridge. The traffic for the George Washington Bridge began to overwhelm the twin two-lane tunnels. In addition, the ventilation system was inadequate, and needed replacing. The plans for the Trans-Manhattan Expressway were conceived in 1955 and seven years later, the new expressway opened to traffic. Following the closures, the entranceway of the 178th Street tunnel was used as a secondary emergency equipment garage for the George Washington Bridge but later removed. The two tunnels are currently being used as storage space.
Although the two tunnels were closed, there were proposals to use them again for vehicular traffic. A study was completed, in which the tunnels would be rehabilitated and reused temporarily for traffic diverted from a reconstruction of the Trans-Manhattan Expressway and the Alexander Hamilton Bridge. The rehabilitation never happened and the tunnels continue to be used as storage.