History: The North-South Freeway

History: The North-South Freeway In the late 1940s, the New Jersey State Highway Department proposed the North-South Freeway, a link that was to connect the eastern approach of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge with southern New Jersey points. Construction of the NJ 42 Freeway took on greater importance with the 1953 announcement of the construction of the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Right-of-way acquisition began in the early 1950s, and construction of the first sections of four-lane freeway soon followed. The first 4.3-mile-long section of the NJ 42 Freeway, between the I-295 / I-76 junction in Bellmawr and NJ 168 (Black Horse Pike) in Blackwood, opened in 1958. One year later, the remaining 3.8 miles of freeway south to the Atlantic City Expressway / NJ 42 junction in Turnersville was opened to traffic. With the completion of the I-76 and NJ 42 sections of the North-South Freeway, motorists now had an 11-mile express route between South Jersey and Philadelphia.

The 1965 completion of the Atlantic City Expressway extended this continuous controlled-access route to Atlantic City. In anticipation of the completion of the Atlantic City Expressway, the state widened the existing NJ 42 Freeway to six lanes, and near the I-76 / I-295 interchange, to eight lanes. The additional lanes were constructed within the median of the freeway.

In 1985, the NJDOT completed a new interchange with the NJ 55 Freeway in Deptford. The NJ 55 Freeway, which was completed south to Port Elizabeth in 1989, provides access to Cape May County.

Carrying more than 85,000 vehicles per day, the NJ 42 Freeway is constructed to contemporary highway design standards. In its original design, the expressway was constructed with four 12-foot-wide lanes, 10-foot-wide shoulders, and 1200-foot-long acceleration and deceleration lanes. To accommodate the additional traffic spurred by new suburban development and the opening of the Atlantic City Expressway, the state widened and resurfaced the entire length of the NJ 42 Freeway from four to six lanes in 1965.

Beginning in 1996, the NJDOT widened the NJ 42 Freeway from six to eight lanes between the I-295 / I-76 interchange in Bellmawr and the NJ 55 Freeway junction in Deptford. The widening project was completed in August 1999 at a cost of $35 million.

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