PLANNED AS A PARKWAY: In 1932, the Regional Planning Federation (the predecessor agency to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission) proposed a parkway system around the Philadelphia area similar to that constructed by Robert Moses. Borrowing from the Moses design conventions, the four-lane parkways were to feature controlled access, stone-arch bridges, timber lightposts and natural vegetation.

One such parkway was to be constructed along the present US 202 corridor through Pennsylvania into New Jersey. In New Jersey, the parkway was to connect to another parkway along the current NJ 29 corridor. It is not known if the proposed parkway was to continue north along US 202 into New York State.

Constructed to relieve congestion along the corridor between Hunterdon County, New Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the US 202 Freeway connects the Delaware River at Lambertville (where it crosses into Pennsylvania at New Hope) with the NJ 31 junction in Ringoes. North of NJ 31, US 202 continues as a median-separated, at-grade arterial highway to the I-287 junction in Somerset County. (For six miles from Ringoes north to Flemington, US 202 and NJ 31 are dually signed.)

Although classified as a "rural principal arterial" by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), the US 202 Freeway (as designated in the NJDOT straight-line diagrams) is built to contemporary freeway standards. It features grade separation, four 12-foot-wide lanes, 12-foot-wide shoulders and a 25-foot-wide median.

Recommended by the Tri-State Transportation Commission in 1966, the US 202 Freeway was not adopted in the NJDOT capital program until it was legislated in 1969. Two years later, when the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge opened to traffic, work was underway on the US 202 Freeway. (When the bridge first opened, temporary roads connected the bridge to the local roads.) Originally proposed to extend some 27 miles between Lambertville and the I-287 junction in Bridgewater Township, the truncated 5.9-mile-long section of freeway opened to traffic in October 1974. In 1975, the old US 202 between Ringoes and New Hope (which the freeway replaced) was re-designated NJ 179 and PA 179.

According to the NJDOT, the US 202 Freeway carries approximately 10,000 vehicles per day (AADT) at the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge (which is operated by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission), rising to approximately 25,000 vehicles per day at the NJ 31 junction in Ringoes.

EXTENDING FROM PENNSYLVANIA TO I-287: In 1966, the Tri-State Transportation Commission first proposed a US 202 Freeway through central New Jersey. That year, in its report Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, the Commission stated its case for a freeway to fill the gap between I-78 and I-95, as well as to provide a connection to a proposed US 202 Expressway in Pennsylvania:

This east-west route through Somerset and Hunterdon counties will fill the needs of the area between I-78 and I-95. It will connect with the proposed Piedmont Expressway (US 202) in Pennsylvania.

Citing current and future traffic needs, the NJDOT legislated the 27-mile-long route of the US 202 Freeway, between the then-proposed New Hope-Lambertville Bridge and a proposed interchange with I-287 (Middlesex Freeway) in Bridgewater Township, in 1969. However, by the mid-1970's, strong community opposition stopped this freeway, along with a number of other proposed highways, from being constructed through central New Jersey.

In its 1975 report
Maintaining Mobility, the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (the successor to the Tri-State Transportation Commission) dropped plans for an extended US 202 Freeway north of Ringoes.

ARTERIAL IMPROVEMENTS: North of the US 202 Freeway terminus, the NJDOT plans to replace the existing Flemington Circle, where NJ 31, US 202 and NJ 12 intersect, with a grade-separated interchange. The $21 million project, which is slated for completion in 2005, would include reconstruction of the US 202 and NJ 31 mainline through the area. In a separate project, the NJDOT plans an interchange with the proposed NJ 31 Freeway (Flemington Bypass) north of the Flemington Circle.

SOURCES: Regional Plan of the Philadelphia Tri-State District, Regional Planning Federation (1932); Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan, Tri-State Transportation Commission (1966); New Jersey Highway Facts, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1969); Maintaining Mobility, Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (1975); Jeff Kitsko; Raymond C. Martin; Christopher G. Mason; Dan Moraseski.

  • US 202 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.




  • New Hope-Lambertville Bridge (US 202)

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