A NEW EAST-WEST LINK FOR CENTRAL JERSEY: In 1938, state officials proposed legislation for a "Route 31A," an expressway running from just west of Princeton through Hightstown, and east to the Atlantic Ocean along the NJ 33 corridor. The proposed expressway, which was touted in official literature as the "gateway to the Jersey Shore," was shelved during World War II, but the traffic needs of the postwar era necessitated revival of the proposal.

In 1960, the New Jersey State Highway Department reintroduced plans for the NJ 33 Freeway in the statewide highway network. By the middle of the decade, the state included the NJ 33 Freeway as an important link in the "Central Jersey Expressway System." The proposed system, which also comprised the NJ 18 Freeway, the NJ 37 Freeway (today's I-195), the unbuilt NJ 38 Freeway and the unbuilt Garden State Thruway, was to provide access between the state capital, the New Jersey Turnpike and resorts along the New Jersey shore. Moreover, the new expressway network was to accommodate present and future suburban growth, and promote development in central New Jersey.

In its 1966 report
Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, the Tri-State Transportation Commission announced an ambitious plan for the NJ 33 Freeway as follows:

The proposed NJ 33 Freeway, an east-west route through Mercer County, will relieve existing congested NJ 33 and serve suburban areas east of Trenton. Continuing east through Monmouth County, the NJ 33 Freeway will complete the expressway grid between Trenton and North Jersey shore resorts. It will serve fast growing suburban areas in Monmouth County.

Beginning at US 1 (Trenton Freeway) in downtown Trenton, the 39-mile-long NJ 33 Freeway was to continue northeast to the New Jersey Turnpike (at EXIT 8) in Hightstown. At this point, it was to connect with the NJ 133 Freeway (Hightstown Bypass). Continuing east and paralleling the existing route, the NJ 33 Freeway was to bypass Freehold, connect with the unbuilt Garden State Thruway (Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway), interchange with the Garden State Parkway (at EXIT 100) in Neptune, and end at the NJ 18 Freeway (at EXIT 8) in Neptune.

One year later, in its report New Jersey Highway Facts, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) announced a scaled-down proposal for the NJ 33 Freeway. The seven-mile-long, four-lane expressway was described by the NJDOT as follows:

(The proposed Freehold Bypass) is an east-west link in the Central Jersey expressway system on new alignment. The freeway will bypass the Monmouth County seat, thereby permitting free flow of traffic, while simultaneously improving access to and reducing congestion in that area.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION: Design of the NJ 33 Freeway (Freehold Bypass) began in 1967, and construction began four years later. Built to full freeway standards, the NJ 33 Freeway features four 12-foot-wide lanes, 12-foot-wide shoulders and a 30-foot-wide grassed median. The initial three-mile-long section of the NJ 33 Freeway, between old (business) NJ 33 in Englishtown and US 9 in Freehold, was completed in 1975. Two additional miles of freeway east to Halls Mill Road in Freehold were completed in 1988.

COMPLETING THE FREEHOLD BYPASS: Throughout the 1980's and 1990's, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority proposed construction of the long-delayed eastern section of the Freehold Bypass. Residents in Howell opposed the route in the belief that interchanges would distribute excessive traffic into residential areas. However, officials in Freehold Township held that the freeway extension would alleviate congestion on local roads.

Despite entrenched opposition from environmental and anti-highway groups, the pro-highway forces won out after years of delay. In June 2000, the NJDOT awarded contracts for the unbuilt section of the NJ 33 Freeway, extending east from Halls Mill Road in Freehold to Business NJ 33 (just east of Fairfield Road) in Howell.

The $34 million extension was constructed on a right-of-way that the NJDOT acquired in the late 1960's. The 1.8-mile-long final section, which was built as a divided "super-2" (one travel lane in each direction), features grade-separated interchanges at Halls Mill Road, Howell Road and Fairfield Road. In an effort to protect a preferred bog turtle habitat, the NJDOT built a bridge over Burkes Creek. The NJDOT built bridges to carry the NJ 33 Freeway over the NJ Transit Freehold line, Long Brook and Fairfield Road, and made improvements to intersecting roads. The final section of freeway opened to traffic on January 17, 2003, approximately four months behind schedule.

Prior to its completion, the freeway was renamed the "Theodore J. Narozanick Highway" in honor of the long-time Monmouth County freeholder who lobbied for the NJ 33 Freeway Extension. According to the NJDOT, approximately 15,000 vehicles (AADT) use the Freehold Bypass each day.

LEFT: This 2000 photo shows the westbound NJ 33 Freeway at Wemrock Road in Freehold Township. RIGHT: This 2000 photo shows the current eastern terminus of the NJ 33 Freeway at Halls Mill Road in Freehold Township. Note the construction barriers on the left side of the carriageway for the NJ 33 Freeway Extension. The extension opened to traffic in January 2003. (Photos by Raymond C. Martin.)

SOURCES: Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1966); New Jersey Highway Facts, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1967); "Route 33 Widening Delayed" by John A. Harnes, The Asbury Park Press (10/06/1999); "Freehold Bypass on Track for Completion in 2002" by Sherry Conohan, The Asbury Park Press (6/20/2000); "Road Halfway Done," The Asbury Park Press (8/22/2001); "Market-Based Solutions for Peak-Hour Congestion in the Trenton-New Brunswick Route 1 Corridor" by Meghan K. Fehlig, Princeton University (2002); North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority; Tri-State Transportation Campaign; Phil Case; Raymond C. Martin; Christopher G. Mason; Dan Moraseski; Al Tossoonian; William F. Yurasko.

  • NJ 33 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.





  • NJ 33 Freeway

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