This 1978 map shows the approximate location of the NJ 74 Freeway from East Brunswick to Matawan. Note that this map shows a spur connecting to NJ 35 in South Amboy. (Map © 1978 by General Drafting Services; supplied by Scott Colbert.)

THE INDUSTRIAL FREEWAY: The route of NJ 74 was first proposed in 1956, when officials from Middlesex and Monmouth counties proposed an "Industrial Highway" connecting NJ 18 in East Brunswick with NJ 35 in Matawan. In June 1961, local officials submitted a bill for the NJ 74 Freeway to State Senator John Lynch. The bill legislating the freeway was passed by the New Jersey state legislature in January 1962.

According to studies conducted by the engineering consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff in 1966-1967, the proposed NJ 74 Freeway was to fulfill the need for an east-west expressway in the area immediately south of the Raritan River. The area covered by the NJ 74 studies, which was characterized by expanding suburban development, heavy industry and parkland, was expected to grow by 150 percent between 1970 and 1985. Existing east-west, two-lane roads connecting the north-south arteries were thought to be unable to cope with present and future traffic demands.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE: The 10.6-mile, four-lane NJ 74 Freeway between East Brunswick and Keyport was to traverse different landscapes. Near the western terminus at NJ 18, the freeway was to traverse rapidly growing suburban development in the East Brunswick-Old Bridge area. The middle of the route in the Sayreville-South River area was to be characterized by heavy industrial development. Near the eastern terminus at NJ 35 in the Matawan-Keyport area, the freeway was to border the southern boundary of Cheesequake State Park. The road was to be constructed to contemporary freeway standards, with a design speed of 70 MPH, a 300-foot-wide right-of-way and an 88-foot-wide median to accommodate an additional lane in each direction.

The preferred alignment was selected to prevent the severance of private industrial land, and to minimize the intrusion of Cheesequake State Park. A total of 19 homes and 19 businesses were to be taken as part of the NJ 74 right-of-way acquisition. Including construction and right-of-way costs, the east-west freeway was estimated in 1970 to cost $64.7 million.

Interchanges were to be built at the following locations:

EXIT 1: NJ 18 in East Brunswick
EXIT 2: Middlesex CR 535 (Main Street) in South River
EXIT 3: Jernee Mill Road in Sayreville
EXIT 4: Minisink Avenue in Sayreville
EXIT 5: Bordentown-South Amboy Turnpike in Old Bridge
EXIT 6: US 9 Expressway and NJ 34 in Browntown
EXIT 7: Morristown Road in Cheesequake
EXIT 8: NJ 35 in Matawan (Cliffwood)

Although the NJ 74 Freeway was to cross the Garden State Parkway near milepost 119 in Matawan, no freeway-to-parkway connection was planned in these studies. (Such a connection might have been provided in the future, according to the studies.) The NJ 74 Freeway also did not provide a connection to I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike); it was to begin approximately one mile at NJ 18 approximately one mile southeast of the turnpike.

Included in the NJ 74 Freeway project was the construction of a US 9 Expressway, which was to parallel the existing US 9 to the east, and connect the NJ 74 Freeway in Browntown with NJ 35 in South Amboy. Further east, the NJDOT proposed a connection to another unbuilt road, the NJ 35 Freeway, in Matawan. The connecting freeways were proposed in 1971 legislation.

With the defeat of the 1972 statewide transportation bond issue, the NJ 74 Freeway proposal appeared moribund. However, the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission made one last pitch for the Monmouth County freeway in 1975 as follows:

The NJ 74 Freeway, a proposed limited-access route from NJ 18 to NJ 35, will serve planned industrial and residential concentrations.

The Commission estimated that the NJ 74 Freeway would be completed by 2000. However, by the early 1980's, the Commission dropped the freeway from its list of long-range proposals. Despite the demise of the proposal, the New Jersey State Legislature has not yet removed the NJ 74 Freeway from the NJDOT official route log.

SOURCES: New Jersey Highway Facts, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1967); "Route 74 Freeway Location Study," New Jersey Department of Transportation (1970); Master Plan for Transportation, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1972); Maintaining Mobility, Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (1975); Louer Corsaro; Raymond C. Martin; Dan Moraseski; William F. Yurasko.

  • NJ 74 shield by Ralph Herman.


Back to The Roads of Metro New York home page.

Site contents © by Eastern Roads. This is not an official site run by a government agency. Recommendations provided on this site are strictly those of the author and contributors, not of any government or corporate entity.