EARLY PLANS: As early as 1964, the Regional Plan Association proposed a new freeway from I-80 in Netcong to the proposed NJ 23 Freeway in Hamburg. In this early proposal, the NJ 94 Freeway was to follow US 206 from Netcong north to Newtown, and then follow the existing NJ 94 northeast to Hamburg. The freeway was to not only serve local traffic, but also act as an outer-outer bypass of the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area.
During the late 1960's, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) proposed a network of new freeways to serve the northwest part of the state. Beginning at the I-80 / US 46 junction in Columbia, and extending northeast to Wawayanda State Park at the New Jersey-New York border, the NJ 94 Freeway was to connect to proposed freeways along the US 206, NJ 15, NJ 23 and NJ 208 corridors, and to a proposed northern extension of the NJ 31 Freeway along the perimeter of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
A POTENTIAL INTERSTATE: In 1970, the state of New Jersey submitted a variation of the NJ 94 plan to the Federal government, hoping to get 90 percent Federal funds to build the highway. Since it was to serve the nearby Tocks Island Recreation Area (also proposed that year), the state believed that it could secure an Interstate designation for NJ 94. Under this proposal (whose Interstate designation was never given), there was to be a 34-mile-long freeway built from I-80 in Hope north to I-84 in Port Jervis, New York. It was to serve the Tocks Island Recreation Area that was proposed at the time. The freeway was to continue northeast into New York State along the US 209 corridor as the "Catskill Expressway." However, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rejected the proposal.
The 1972 NJDOT report Master Plan for Transportation revived the NJ 94 proposal, and described the route of the freeway as follows:
Although portions of the NJ 94 Freeway in Warren and Sussex counties will provide service to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, its primary function will be to serve as the main diagonal route connecting PA 611 in Pennsylvania with US 6 and NY 17 in New York State. The anticipated growth in this corridor caused by both a population spillover from the metropolitan areas and the industrial development generated by completion of the Interstate system will merit improvements to the route. Improvements to the existing road are not feasible because such improvements would destroy much of the developed areas through which the route passes.
The NJDOT estimated the cost of the 42-mile-long NJ 94 Freeway at $96 million. Between the proposed US 206 Freeway in Newton and the proposed NJ 15 Freeway in Ross Corner, the NJ 94 Freeway was to have been dually signed with US 206.
By the mid-1970's, mounting fiscal and environmental concerns ultimately led the NJDOT to cancel the ambitious northwest New Jersey network, including the NJ 94 Freeway.