New Jersey Turnpike 1950s
Did you know that the New Jersey Turnpike developed new building ideas that are now used on roads across America?
It’s questions like these that will be answered in this 1950’s newsreel about the New Jersey Turnpike. Jump back in time and see what the “brand new” New Jersey Turnpike looked like and what it cover came in order for it to be built.
(Below the video is the description that came with the video)
The New Jersey Turnpike (shortened to NJTP and colloquially known to New Jerseyans as “the Turnpike”) is a toll road in New Jersey, maintained by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. According to the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, the Turnpike is the nation’s sixth-busiest toll road and is one of the most heavily traveled highways in the United States. The Turnpike is a major thoroughfare providing access to various localities in New Jersey, as well as Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York. The route divides into four roadways at exit 6, with lanes restricted to carrying only cars, and with lanes for cars, trucks and buses.
The northern part of the mainline turnpike, along with the entirety of its extensions and spurs, is part of the Interstate Highway System, designated as Interstate 95 (I-95) between exit 6 and its northern end. Construction of the mainline from conceptualization to completion took 23 months, from 1950 to 1952. It was officially opened to traffic in November 1951, between its southern terminus and exit 10.
The Turnpike has 12-foot-wide (3.7 m) lanes, 10-foot-wide (3.0 m) shoulders, 13 rest areas named after notable residents of New Jersey, and unusual exit signage that was considered the pinnacle of highway building in the 1950s. The Interstate Highway System took some of its design guidelines by copying the Turnpike’s design guidelines. To some degree, the Turnpike is considered iconic in pop culture, having been referenced in music, film and television.
The task of building the Turnpike was not an easy one. One major problem was the construction in the city of Elizabeth, where either 450 homes or 32 businesses would be destroyed, depending on the chosen route. The engineers decided to go through the residential area, since they considered it the grittiest and the closest route to both Newark Airport and the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal seaport.
When construction finally got to Newark, there was the new challenge of deciding to build either over or under the Pulaski Skyway. If construction went above the Skyway, the costs would be much higher. If they went under, the costs would be lower, but the roadway would be very close to the Passaic River, making it harder for ships to pass through. The Turnpike was ultimately built to pass under. As part of a 2005 seismic retrofit project, the Turnpike Authority lowered its roadway to increase vertical clearance and allow for full-width shoulders, which had been constrained by the location of the skyway supports. Engineers replaced the bearings and lowered the bridge by four feet (1.2 m), without shutting down traffic. The work was carried out under a $35 million contract in 2004 by Koch Skanska of Carteret, New Jersey. The engineers for the project were from a joint venture of Dewberry Goodking Inc. and HNTM Corp. Temporary towers were used to support the bridge while bearings were removed from each of the 150 piers and the concrete replaced on the pier tops. The lowering process for an 800-foot (240 m) section of the bridge was done over 56 increments, during five weeks of work.
While continuing up to the New Jersey Meadowlands, the crossings were harder because of the fertile marsh land of silt and mud. Near the shallow mud, the mud was filled with crushed stone, and the roadway was built above the water table. In the deeper mud, caissons were sunk down to a firm stratum and filled with sand, then both the caissons and the surrounding areas were covered with blankets of sand. Gradually, the water was brought up, and drained into adjacent meadows. Then, the construction of the two major bridges over the Passaic River and Hackensack River were completed. The bridges were built to give motorists a clear view of the New York City skyline, but with high retaining walls to create the illusion of not being on a river crossing. The 6,955 ft (2,120 m) Passaic River (Chaplain Washington) Bridge cost $13.7 million to construct and the 5,623 ft (1,714 m) Hackensack River Bridge cost $9.5 million.