THE PATERSON PERIPHERAL: The NJ 19 Freeway, also referred in state documents as the Paterson Peripheral, was originally planned in the 1950's as a spur of the Garden State Parkway into the city of Paterson. The proposed route, which followed an abandoned alignment of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, began at EXIT 154 of the Garden State Parkway in Clifton. Just south of downtown Paterson, the proposed parkway spur was to veer northwest across the Passaic River through Haledon. The route was to terminate in Wayne Township, at the southern end of Paterson-Hamburg Turnpike (Passaic CR 504). Mileage-based exits along the parkway spur were to be followed by a "P" (e.g., 155P, 156P).

In the early 1960's, the New Jersey State Highway Department proposed a replacement for the existing NJ 20 through Paterson. The 5.0-mile-long Paterson Peripheral, originally designated NJ 20, was planned as a six-lane road built to freeway standards from US 46 in Clifton north to the intersection of McLean Boulevard (existing NJ 20) and Maple Avenue in Paterson. Together with I-80 (Bergen-Passaic Expressway), the Paterson Peripheral was to help improve access in and around Paterson. The proposed freeway, which was designed for a capacity of 50,000 vehicles per day (AADT), was estimated to cost $58 million.

Construction of a 1.4-mile-long section between the Garden State Parkway (EXIT 154), US 46 and I-80 (EXIT 57) began in 1967, and was completed in 1971. For many years, the Paterson Peripheral, which was re-designated NJ 19 in 1988, was little more than a connector between the Garden State Parkway and I-80. Incomplete ramps hinted at a possible future extension, but community opposition prevented this from happening.

FINISHING A HALF-COMPLETED INTERCHANGE: In 1984, the NJDOT began to address the I-80 / NJ 19 interchange following years of congestion after the cancellation of the Paterson Peripheral Extension. Under "Alternative 3a," the NJDOT constructed a half-mile-long extension of the NJ 19 Freeway from I-80 north to Main Street (Passaic CR 601) in downtown Paterson. It also built the following new ramps:

  • flyover ramp branching off from westbound I-80 to northbound NJ 19 (downtown Paterson) and southbound NJ 19

  • flyover ramp from northbound NJ 19 to westbound I-80

The plan utilized other ramps that were constructed in the early 1970's (in anticipation of the Paterson Peripheral), but were never used. The new interchange configuration was determined largely by the availability of vacant land, as well as by the nearby historic district. This required engineers to design tightly curved, elevated ramps measuring 730 to 1,115 feet long. The tight geometry of the ramps necessitated the use of steel box girders.

Although designers went to great lengths to minimize disruption, the NJ 19 Freeway extension required the displacement of 25 families, as well as the closing of several downtown streets. The $27 million interchange was completed in October 1992.

FREEWAY EXTENSION STOPPED THROUGH GREAT FALLS: The northern extension of the NJ 19 Freeway through downtown Paterson, as originally proposed in the 1960's, was stopped because of the designation of the Great Falls ("Society of Useful Manufacturers") Historic District, a historic resource of national significance in the path of the proposed alignment. Paterson, one of the most vibrant manufacturing centers in the early years of the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800's, had for many years fallen into decline. The Great Falls historic designation was planned as part of an urban revitalization project.

Studies conducted of feasible alternatives to extend the NJ 19 Freeway for 2.7 miles to its originally planned northern terminus at McLean Boulevard concluded that the extension could not be accomplished without the displacement of at least 179 families and 79 businesses, even if the Great Falls Historic District were avoided. Citing this potential dislocation through downtown Paterson, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) and city officials opposed the freeway design. Eventually, the NJDOT acquiesced, and the New Jersey State Legislature shortened the length of the proposed freeway extension in 1978. This legislation placed the northern terminus of the NJ 19 Freeway at its current location.

A NEW HUDSON RIVER CROSSING? One long-range proposal by the Tri-State Transportation Commission recommended an extension of the NJ 19 Freeway north from Paterson into Glen Rock, Bergen County, then east toward Oradell and Alpine. From Alpine, there was to be a new Hudson River bridge to Westchester County, with the eastern approach in Yonkers. The proposed route was to link with the Cross County Parkway, which was to be upgraded to an expressway that would permit its use by trucks and buses.

The purposes and benefits of the proposed extension were described as follows:

This east-west route through northern Bergen County will fill a gap of 13 miles between expressways in the regional network. It will serve an area of rapid suburban growth, and relieve congested local streets. With the proposed Hudson River crossing, it will provide a close-in bypass north of New York City.

The Commission scheduled the completion of the Paterson Peripheral Extension by 1985. In 1970, the states of New Jersey and New York submitted a joint proposal to include the NJ 19 Freeway Extension, the Cross County Parkway Extension and proposed Alpine-Yonkers Bridge to the Interstate highway system. However, intense opposition by Bergen County and Westchester County residents to a new expressway, combined with the daunting engineering and aesthetic challenges of constructing a bridge at the highest point along the New Jersey Palisades, helped kill this project.

SOURCES: "Public Hearing for Proposed Extension of Route 20," New Jersey State Highway Department (12/21/1961); Regional Highways: Status Report, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1962); Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1966); New Jersey Highway Facts, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1967); "Report on the Status of the Federal-Aid Highway Program," Committee on Public Works, U.S. Senate (1970); How To Save Urban America by William A. Caldwell, Regional Plan Association-Signet Books (1973); "Route 20 Connector, Administrative Action Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Statement," Federal Highway Administration and New Jersey Department of Transportation (1984); "Route 19 / Interstate 80 Interchange," Modern Steel Construction (October 1996); Frank Curcio; Dan Moraseski; Scott Oglesby; Len Pundt; Kevin Sylvester; William F. Yurasko.

  • NJ 19 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.





  • NJ 19 Freeway

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