Hung without care? Some say tunnel decor is an eyesore

Hung without care? Some say tunnel decor is an eyesore
FILE - In a Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018 file photo, holiday decorations adorn the letters on the toll booth structure on the Holland Tunnel approach, in Jersey City. Motorists complained that the decorations don't look right. More than 21,000 people voted in a poll commissioned by tunnel operator the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Poll numbers were released Monday, Dec. 17. The consensus? Move the tree from over the “N” in “Holland” to over the “A,” and remove a wreath hanging over the “U.” (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) (Source: Julio Cortez)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Holland Tunnel between New Jersey and New York City may be in for a makeover after critics called the placement of its holiday decorations a distraction, a possible trigger for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder — and just plain ugly.

Wreaths have adorned the entrance to the heavily used tunnel around the holidays for decades. But some are upset by the configuration in which wreaths cover the letters "O'' and "U'' on the entrance sign and a tree-shaped decoration covers the letter "N'' in "Holland." The decoration would fit more snugly over the "A," several have said.

On a day when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the tunnel's operator, approved an $8.5 billion budget and celebrated record traffic at its ports and airports in 2018, most of the questions after its monthly board meeting focused on the decorations.

Cory Windelspecht, the Manhattan man who has been the public face of the push to move the decorations, addressed the board.

"The only reason we are here today is that we spoke loudly," he told board members. "We just wanted to get noticed."

Windelspecht said he travels through the tunnel several times a week as part of his job in medical sales and that he has been irked by the sign for several years because of the placement of the tree decoration over the "N."

Windelspecht said that he was surprised at the attention the story is getting this year.

"If people are acknowledging it can be a problem for some, what is the argument? It's got to be changed," he said. "But let's not be a 'Bah humbug' and pull it right down. If anything, put more lights up."

In a lighthearted notice sent Wednesday and styled to mimic the poem that begins "'Twas the night before Christmas," the Port Authority said it is conducting its own public poll. Participants have until Sunday to select one of four options, and Executive Director Rick Cotton said thousands have already voted.

He wouldn't give details but said, based on results so far, "change is in the air."

"In light of the interest and in light of the proposal for change, we thought it was important to listen and take action, and what we're doing is quite straightforward," Cotton said. "We intend to act based on the results."

Cotton added that a design competition would be considered for next year.

More than a million vehicles per month use the tunnel to downtown Manhattan, according to Port Authority statistics.