Photo by Jim K. The parkway, which was to connect northern New Jersey with resort areas on the Atlantic coast, was proposed in response to growing congestion on major north-south routes such as US 1, US 9 and NJ Early designs for the parkway from the New Jersey State Highway Department were divided into three units: The NJ 4 Parkway was to have been financed out of annual appropriations for highway building.
With only 18 miles of parkway completed by , financing the remainder of the parkway had become difficult, but officials soon came up with another plan modeled on the successful New Jersey Turnpike. On April 14, , the State Legislature enacted legislation to create the New Jersey Highway Authority, which was to construct, operate and maintain a self-sufficient toll parkway from Paramus to Cape May.
The legislation also called for the appointment of eight non-salaried commissioners to oversee the project. This legislation also gave the project a new name: The payment of interest and principal on the bonds would be covered by tolls, concessions and other income. Postcard supplied by Bryan Katz. Clarke's design for the parkway was a hybrid of the "Pennsylvania Turnpike" model that stressed efficiency and the "Merritt Parkway" model that stressed aesthetic beauty.
Building upon the parkway guidelines outlined in the "Regulations and Procedures," the following principles governed the design of the Garden State Parkway: Entrance to and exit from the driving lanes were to be restricted to 64 specific locations; there were to be no cross-traffic along the entire mile route a total of overpasses and underpasses will allow free and uninterrupted flow, eliminating all stop signs and traffic light delays.
A broad center island averaging feet in width to eliminate head-on collisions was to safely separate opposing streams of traffic. The foliage of center island plantings was to form a protective screen to shield drivers from the glare of oncoming headlights.
There were to be two separate one-way roadways. Each roadway was to have two or three foot-wide lanes separated by white lines. Horizontal curves were to be super-elevated. Steep grades and vertical curves that contribute to both uneconomical and hazardous driving were to be completely eliminated.
Most grades were to be held to a maximum of three percent. Ample stabilized shoulders were to allow the drivers of disabled vehicles to disengage them from the fast-moving traffic flow easily and safely. The areas immediately beyond the shoulders were to have shallow drainage basins, thereby eliminating dangerous, ditch-like cuts frequently found on other highways. Interchanges and service area entrances and exits were to be designed in keeping with the high-speed, free-flow character of the driving lanes.
Acceleration and deceleration areas were to be provided at these points sufficient in extent to permit vehicles to enter and leave the parkway safely and without confusion. Elements found in existing expressways and turnpikes that are inclined to have an effect of monotony or hypnosis on a driver have been eliminated in this parkway design. The roadway was designed for safety, comfort and speed. The surface treatment is paved and regular. Acceleration and deceleration lanes are provided for entrances, exits, and service facilities in order to smooth traffic flow.
The unobstructed, sloping, stabilized shoulders allow drivers of disabled cars to pull off the roadway. The earth moving undertaken during construction of the roadway provided an opportunity to plan for safety features. In northern New Jersey, the "metropolitan section" of the parkway serves as a functional commuter highway and does not appear different from the expressways built in the 's.
It follows a gradually curving route through densely populated urban and suburban areas. North of Paramus, the dual roadways follow the rolling terrain, and the parkway is separated from the communities by a wooded buffer. Wide grass and wooden medians indigenous to the Northeast separate the two roadways. From Paramus south to Cranford, the dual roadways are mostly located in a cut, with intersecting roadways and pedestrian walkways carried over the parkway cut. Earthen berms and concrete retaining walls form the walls of the cut.
The narrow grass medians contain only guardrails. Through Bloomfield and Cranford, the parkway itself is carried above the towns. South of Cranford, the rolling terrain and wooded buffers return. Moving south of the Raritan River, the "shore section" of the parkway takes on a more bucolic nature.
Along some stretches, the parkway passes through unspoiled pine barrens with forested medians as wide as feet. Where the opposing lanes converge to as little as 30 feet, landscaped berms block the view of opposing traffic, eliminating the blinding effects of opposing headlights. The curvature and grade of the roadway vary in response to local conditions. Throughout the length of the Parkway, steep grades and vertical curves have been eliminated; most grades have a maximum of three percent.
The horizontal alignment consists of gentle curves and straight-aways are minimized. The right-of-way for the parkway ranged from feet to 1, feet. The most common bridge type over the length of the Garden State Parkway is the steel-span bridge, of which there are approximately The streamlined design of these bridges is closer to the simpler, utilitarian designs that would become common in postwar expressways.
Less common are the approximately concrete girder-and-beam and 25 concrete elliptical arch bridges, all of which were constructed in the 's by the New Jersey State Highway Department for the NJ 4 Parkway.
Buildings for service areas, police barracks and toll plaza administration facilities were a one-story domestic design that was compatible with the "New Jersey Colonial" design. These buildings were of either brick or wood frame construction.
Note how the stone-arch overpass design borrows from the New York parkways designed by Robert Moses. Cape May County, milepost 8 to milepost 12 Ocean County, milepost 80 to milepost 83 Middlesex and Union counties, milepost to milepost With new financing backing from the New Jersey Highway Authority, ground was broken for construction of the Garden State Parkway on July 2, During , one section after another was opened to traffic in time for the summer tourist season.
By August of that year, some 80 miles of parkway were opened, providing uninterrupted travel between Irvington and Manahawkin, including the Raritan River Bridge. By late October, the parkway had been completed all the way south to Cape May.
On July 1, , Governor Robert B. Meyner became the first person to cross the Paramus toll plaza, effectively opening the miles of the parkway from Cape May to Paramus.
For the first year, motorists were detoured around Great Egg Harbor while the 1. The opening of the parkway soon created demand for a new ocean-going ferry service connecting the southern terminus of the parkway in Cape May with Lewes, Delaware. Over the 45 years, additional bonds issued by the New Jersey Highway Authority have helped finance expansion projects on the Garden State Parkway.
In central New Jersey, the original four-lane parkway has been widened to as much as 14 lanes. Like the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway makes use of the dual-dual arrangement in the lane and lane sections. Two years later, after acknowledging that the lanes did not reduce congestion, but rather caused confusion that created a safety hazard, Governor Thomas Kean and transportation commissioner John Sheridan scrapped the HOV lanes. The former HOV lanes were converted to general-use lanes.
In , officials closed the southbound bridge over Great Egg Harbor after engineers found cracks. The cracks appeared on the original bridge dating from the mid's, which originally carried one lane of traffic in each direction until it was joined by a new two-lane bridge in The older bridge had less concrete and fewer expansion joints than the new northbound bridge, and this may have contributed to fatigue on the older bridge.
Officials shifted traffic onto the northbound bridge while work continued. The emergency construction work was completed within weeks. The Turnpike Authority maintains all Photo by Steve Anderson. There are also four fuel-only stations and five picnic areas.
In addition, there are more than 3, parking spaces at 17 commuter park-and-ride locations. Motorcycles have been permitted on the parkway only since the mid's. In , the state lowered the speed limit back to 55 MPH from milepost 80 north to milepost following a string of fatal accidents; this section has substandard foot-wide lanes.
Unlike the New Jersey Turnpike, where interchanges were kept to a minimum, the Garden State Parkway has a total of entrances and exits for convenient access. Unlike the turnpike, which charges tolls only at interchanges, the parkway has eleven barrier tolls at the following locations: In addition, the parkway has entrance and exit tolls at 19 locations. The first EZ-Pass tags were accepted at the Hillsdale toll plaza in December , and one year later, the installation of the EZ-Pass system was completed on the parkway.
The frequency of the toll plazas, currently a source of misery for parkway motorists, was extolled in the 's by the designers of the parkway as follows: Parkway engineers have proven that this wicket toll system is for the motorists own good.
One criticism of today's expressways is the tedium and hypertension they create within the driver. A short "break" en route, every twenty miles or so, relieves the monotony and removes the cause of many accidents.
All of the cash toll plazas operate on an "honor system" in which motorists who do not have the cent or cent exact change may submit an envelope with the coins and mail it later to the New Jersey Highway Authority. Over the years, this system has proven ineffective: In , two separate proposals to radically change the toll structure of the Garden State Parkway were presented. Although it received strong support from state leaders, the plan to eliminate tolls eventually was criticized by bondholders, who considered the move as politically motivated and financially irresponsible, as well as by members of the toll collectors' union, who feared losing their jobs.
During the following two and one-half years, the authority upgraded all of its toll plazas, completing the project in mid The rebuilt plazas, which formerly collected tolls in both directions, were reconfigured as follows: Cape May mile However, Governor Jon Corzine is opposed to privatization of the parkway. Chris Blaney, New Jersey contributor to misc. From milepost 0 north to milepost 82, there are four foot-wide lanes two in each direction , with a wide, landscaped median. From milepost 82 north to milepost 94, there are six foot-wide lanes three in each direction , with a wide landscaped median and grass shoulders.
This section formerly had two foot-wide lanes in each direction; the shoulders were converted into additional travel lanes. Approximately 75, vehicles travel this section each day. From milepost 94 north to milepost 98, there are eight foot-wide lanes four in each direction.
This section formerly had three foot-wide lanes in each direction; the shoulders were converted into additional travel lanes.