This 1976 map shows the proposed I-695 and I-95 in northern Somerset County. (Map ©1976 by H.M. Gousha, supplied by Scott Colbert.)

THE APPROVAL OF I-695 (1968-1979): In the late 1960's, the Tri-State Transportation Commission and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) urged construction of a spur connection between I-95 (Somerset Freeway) in Manville Township and I-287 (Middlesex Freeway) in Somerville to serve northwest-to-southwest traffic. The I-695 spur, known unofficially as the Somerset Freeway Extension, was approved by the BPR in October 1968.

In conjunction with I-95 and I-287, the 3.4-mile-long, four-lane I-695 was to form part of a bypass around the New York-northeast New Jersey metropolitan area. The combined I-95/I-695 facility was to serve traffic bound for upstate New York and New England. Originally estimated to cost $55 million, the two freeways were estimated to cost $375 million by 1979.

In 1979, the NJDOT issued a final environmental impact statement for the missing links of I-95 and I-695, recommending their construction to relieve congestion on local roads and to provide Interstate service. That year, both the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission recommended construction of the two routes, but found that they would be most effective for local and medium-distance traffic. Long-distance Interstate traffic along the Northeast corridor would continue to be served by the New Jersey Turnpike.

THE END OF THE ROAD (1979-1982): By the late 1970's, the battle for I-95 and I-695 was increasingly becoming a lost cause. First, opposition came from the affected towns of Hopewell, Montgomery, and Princeton. The Middlesex-Somerset-Mercer Regional Study Council followed by issuing a statement against construction of I-95 through the area. Next, a bipartisan group of state legislators, led by state senator Anne Martindell of Princeton, backed a measure that would have cut off funding for an environmental impact study. This mounting opposition forced Governor Brendan Byrne, who initially sided with Federal and state highway officials, to switch sides on the issue.

The fatal blow came in May 1980 when the NJDOT reversed its 1979 opinion, pulling its support for the I-95/I-695 complex. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved both the 29-mile-long I-95 through central New Jersey, and the three-mile-long I-695 spur, for de-designation in January 1981. Finally, in December 1982, a bipartisan effort by U.S. Senators Nicholas Brady and Bill Bradley killed the proposed routes. The $375 million in funds for the Interstate trade-in were disbursed through the FHWA and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UTMA).

SOURCES: "Interstate 95," Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (1978); "Interstates 95 and 695: Administrative Action Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Statement," Federal Highway Administration and New Jersey Department of Transportation (1979); "I-95 Corridor in the Tri-State Region," Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (1979); "Governor Byrne Cancels I-95 Through Central Jersey," The New York Times (5/04/1980); New Jersey Transportation Plan, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1981); "Traffic Woes May Jump Start Stalled I-95 Link" by David Newhouse, The Trenton Times (10/22/1995); "Missing Link To Be Revived?" by Ruth Luse, The Hopewell Valley News (10/26/1995); Chris Blaney; Frank Curcio; George Kowal; Arthur Malkin; Raymond C. Martin; Dan Moraseski; Scott Oglesby; Jack Watro; William F. Yurasko.

  • I-695 and I-95 shields by Ralph Herman.


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