THE GARDEN STATE THRUWAY: In 1964, the New Jersey Highway Authority, which operates the Garden State Parkway, proposed a 45-mile-long expressway linking Woodbridge in Middlesex County with Toms River in Ocean County. The north-south Garden State Thruway, which was to be open to all vehicles, was to provide a bypass of the Garden State Parkway and US 9 through the interior of the state.

As it was originally proposed, the Garden State Thruway was to be a controlled-access route between the New York-northeast New Jersey metropolitan area and the southern New Jersey coast. It was to provide an important link from the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) to Garden State Parkway, on which commercial vehicles are prohibited north of EXIT 105 in Monmouth County. Along with what would eventually become the east-west I-195, the proposed north-south toll road was part of the "Central Jersey Expressway System" announced by Governor Hughes in 1967. By that year, the New Jersey Highway Authority had already purchased 253 acres along the proposed route.

Plans for the Garden State Thruway remained on official maps through mid-1970. Citing financial difficulties, the New Jersey Highway Authority decided not to build the road, and in October 1970, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority took over the project.

THE ALFRED E. DRISCOLL EXPRESSWAY: In 1971, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority proposed a 36-mile-long, four-lane toll expressway from the Garden State Parkway in Toms River northwest to the New Jersey Turnpike in South Brunswick. The Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway, named after the governor who opened the mainline New Jersey Turnpike, was to provide a high-speed corridor for central and southern New Jersey, and the only controlled-access route to southeast New Jersey fully open to trucks. It was a somewhat shorter route than that proposed in the 1960's for the Garden State Thruway.

The $360 million Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway, which was to be financed by New Jersey Turnpike Authority bonds, was scheduled for completion by 1976. It was expected to carry approximately 40,000 vehicles per day (AADT). While its construction would have required the displacement of 84 homes and six businesses, the expressway (in conjunction with appropriate planning and zoning) was expected to better accommodate residential, commercial and light industrial growth.

The Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway was to begin at the Garden State Parkway just south of EXIT 80 (Ocean CR 530) in Toms River. It was to parallel to parkway north to NJ 37, and leave the parkway alignment north of this point. Continuing north, a barrier toll plaza was to be constructed in the vicinity of NJ 70 in Lakehurst Township. At this toll plaza, tickets would be distributed to northbound motorists, and collected from southbound motorists. The expressway was to continue in a north-northwesterly direction to its terminus at milepost 77 (between EXIT 8A and EXIT 9) of the New Jersey Turnpike in South Brunswick. Since the expressway was to be part of the New Jersey Turnpike system, there would have been no need for an additional barrier toll plaza at its northern terminus.

Interchanges were to be constructed at the following locations:

EXIT D1: Garden State Parkway and US 9 in Toms River
EXIT D2: NJ 37 in Toms River
EXIT D3: NJ 70 in Lakehurst Township
EXIT D4: I-195 in Jackson Township
EXIT D5: NJ 33 Freeway in Manalapan Township
EXIT D6: Middlesex CR 520 in Madison Township
EXIT D7: New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) in South Brunswick

Tolls were to be collected at the NJ 70, I-195, NJ 33 and Middlesex CR 520 interchanges.

DESIGN CRITERIA: The engineers of the Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway incorporated many of the design features pioneered by the New Jersey Turnpike and other highways: controlled access at interchanges spaced considerable distances apart, 12-foot-wide traffic lanes, 12-foot-wide shoulders, and 1,200-foot-long acceleration and deceleration lanes. To provide a safe efficient means of travel between two points, all grades were to be kept to a maximum of three percent, and all curves were to have a minimum radius of 3,000 feet. Although the design speed for the expressway was 70 miles per hour, the engineers established a legal speed limit of 60 miles per hour to allow for a margin of safety. In addition to these design standards for the roadway, there were also specifications established for all turnpike structures, including bridges and storm-drainage facilities.

Unlike the New Jersey Turnpike, which embodied the streamlined efficiency of the 1950's, the Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway was to incorporate the aesthetic values of the 1970's. Toward this end, the expressway was to have a wide, variable median in which existing vegetation was to be carefully preserved. Landscaping along right-of-way fences and center medians was to minimize visual and noise intrusion caused by the expressway. The creation of a greenbelt along the expressway's 450-foot-wide right-of-way was to enhance the environment by preserving open space.

The proposed Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway and intersecting highways. (Map from "Governor Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway, Final Environmental Impact Statement," New Jersey Turnpike Authority, 1972.)

THE BATTLE OVER THE EXPRESSWAY: The Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway was approved by the New Jersey State Legislature in 1972. Once the environmental review process concluded in late 1972, public hearings began along the proposed route.

During these hearings, citizen groups from Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex counties mounted significant opposition, citing that the proposed turnpike would spur additional traffic, raise air and noise pollution levels, and harm the Pine Barrens covering the central and southern parts of the state. This opposition took place in an environment where voters rejected a $650 million bond issue for additional road and rail projects in the state, a vote that was widely interpreted as an anti-highway vote.

The heated opposition did not stop the New Jersey Turnpike Authority from selling $210 million in bonds for the project. The 5.7-percent bonds were sold in a matter of days. One broker was quoted as saying, "All the investor can see is a solid line of cars, all generating toll fees."

The proposed Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway received a devastating blow in December 1973, when governor-elect Brendan Byrne announced that he would kill the proposal. He declared that the toll road represented a danger to the environment, and that the 1973-1974 oil shortage reduced the need for the road.

Nevertheless, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, with $20 million already spent in design and engineering work in jeopardy, defied the governor by decided to go ahead with the proposed expressway. Former governor Alfred E. Driscoll, now chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, insisted that the expressway was initially approved by former governor William T. Cahill, and that any successor did not have the power to reverse that decision. This further incensed Governor Byrne, who learned that construction of the turnpike spur would cause tolls to be raised on the mainline turnpike by 80 percent.

One week after Driscoll died in March 1975, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority officially dropped its plans for the Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway. However, plans for the turnpike spur were not shelved right away. In September of that year, the Tri-State Regional Planning Commission recommended that new studies be undertaken along the Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway corridor:

The Governor Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway, a proposed spur from the New Jersey Turnpike in South Brunswick to the Garden State Parkway in Toms River, possibly incorporating a mass transit line, should receive additional study.

The Commission recommended that the turnpike spur (and rail line) be completed by 2000. By the early 1980's, the study corridor had been dropped from the Commission's list of priority corridors. It was not until the late 1980's that the rights-of-way for the Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway were sold.

SOURCES: "Proposal for a Central Jersey Expressway System," New Jersey State Highway Department (1965); "Special Report on the Garden State Parkway and the Central Jersey Expressway System," New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Highway Authority (1967); "Manalapan Battles Road Plan" by Jerry Cheslow, The New York Times (11/26/1972); "Governor Alfred E. Driscoll Expressway: Final Environmental Impact Statement," New Jersey Turnpike Authority (1972); "Turnpike Authority Seeks To Answer Objections to New Spur" by George B. Dawson, The New York Times (6/10/1973); "Byrne's Opposition Blocks Jersey Turnpike Extension" by Ronald Sullivan, The New York Times (12/17/1973); "Expressway Dispute Persists," The New York Times (12/22/1974); "Driscoll Road Won't Be Sought," The New York Times (3/15/1975); Maintaining Mobility, Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (1975); Mike Natale.

  • New Jersey Turnpike shield by New Jersey Turnpike Authority.


Back to The Roads of Metro New York home page.

Back to The Roads of Metro Philadelphia 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.