New Jersey Turnpike

From Academic Kids

Missing image
A toll ticket for the New Jersey Turnpike.

The New Jersey Turnpike is a toll road in New Jersey and is one of the most heavily traveled highways in the United States. A segment of it is part of the interstate highway system. Construction of the Turnpike from conceptualization to opening took an astonishingly brief 23 months from 1950 to 1952. The Turnpike boasts 12-foot-wide lanes, 10-foot-wide shoulders, 13 rest areas named after notable New Jerseyans, and unusual exit signage that was considered the pinnacle of highway building in the 1950s. The interstate highway system took some of its design guidelines by copying the Turnpike's design guidelines.


General information

The main trunk of the New Jersey Turnpike runs from Deepwater, New Jersey in the south to Ridgefield, New Jersey in the north. It is designated as unsigned New Jersey State Highway 700 from exits 1 through 6 and Interstate 95 from exits 6 through 18. The number of lanes ranges from 4 lanes south of exit 4, the interchange with New Jersey State Highway 73, to 6 lanes between exits 4 and 8A, the interchange with New Jersey State Highway 32.

Before the advent of the interstate highways, the whole Turnpike was designated as Route 700, with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension being New Jersey State Highway 700P and the Newark Bay Extension being New Jersey State Highway 700N at one time. The western spur is officially known as New Jersey State Highway 95W but signed as Interstate 95 (see below). None of these state highway designations have ever been signed.

North of exit 8A, the Turnpike splits into a "dual-dual" configuration, with the outer lanes open to all vehicles and the inner lanes limited to cars only, unless signed otherwise because of unusual conditions. From here to exit 14, the interchange with Interstate 78, the road ranges from 10 to 14 lanes wide.

Between exits 14 and 18, the Turnpike splits into two spurs, an eastern spur and a western spur. Both spurs are posted as I-95, although technically the eastern spur is I-95 as that was built first. The western spur is posted as I-95 for through traffic on I-95, while traffic entering at the ends of the split is routed via the eastern spur. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (which calls every class of highway Route) calls the western spur Route 95W.

The Turnpike also has two extensions: The first, the Newark Bay Extension, is part of Interstate 78; it opened in 1956. It connects Newark with Jersey City and intersects the main trunk near Newark Liberty International Airport. This extension contains exits 14A, 14B, and 14C.

The second extension connects the main trunk of the New Jersey Turnpike with the Pennsylvania Turnpike at exit 6. It is a 6-mile extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike into New Jersey, and it is part of I-95.

A four-mile stretch of I-95 north of U.S. Highway 46 came under Turnpike Authority jurisdiction in 1992, as the New Jersey Department of Transportation "sold" the road in order to balance the state budget. This section of the road is also "dual-dual", split into local and express lanes.

The New Jersey Turnpike is a toll road, using a system of long-distance tickets, obtained once by a motorist upon entering and surrendered upon exiting at toll gates. The toll gates exist at all exits and entrances and also at the highway extensions towards the Hudson River. The toll fee depends on the distance traveled between entrance and exit, and longer distances result in higher tolls. As of 2004, the automobile toll from exit 1 to exit 18 is $6.45. Discounts are available to users of the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system.

On July 9, 2003, New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey's plan to merge the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the Garden State Parkway into one agency was completed.

In November 2004, acting New Jersey Governor Richard Codey advocated a plan to widen the Turnpike, extending the dual-dual configuration 20.1 miles south from exit 8A to exit 6, by 2011, when the Pennsylvania Turnpike is supposed to complete an interchange that will connect its road to the existing I-95 in Bucks County.

The Turnpike in Popular Culture

The New Jersey Turnpike has made an impact on popular culture.

In the Chuck Berry song "You Can't Catch Me", the singer outruns the cops in his Cadillac on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Simon and Garfunkel's song "America", after describing a long trip across much of the country, concludes with the lines:

"Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America."

Bif Naked's song "Sophia" begins with the lyric "I picked you up on a grey day, the New Jersey Turnpike".

Bruce Springsteen's album Nebraska contains the chilling "State Trooper", in which a traveller on the Turnpike, a desperate man who has committed unspecified crimes, prays that he won't be pulled over by the police:

"New Jersey Turnpike
Ridin' on a wet night
'Neath the refinery's glow
Out where the great black rivers flow
License, registration, I ain't got none
But I got a clear conscience
'Bout the things that I done
Mister state trooper
Please don't stop me."

The same song is referenced — as an homage rather than a cover — by the repetition of its first line in the song "Theme From Turnpike" by the Belgian band dEUS.

Part of the movie Being John Malkovich was set next to the Turnpike.

The opening to the television series The Sopranos features the main character driving on the Turnpike.

The book Looking For America On The New Jersey Turnpike (see References) chronicles the history of "America's Main Road" and analyzes its place in American culture.

The Rest Areas

The New Jersey Turnpike is noted for naming its rest areas after people who lived or worked in New Jersey. From south to north, the rest areas are:

Even long-time local motorists frequently do not know who some of these people were, or in the case of Kilmer, even what gender they were. (Hint: Kilmer's full name is Alfred Joyce Kilmer.) Contemporary New Jersey writers such as Calvin Trillin and Philip Roth have ruefully commented that they hope they don't get a rest stop named after them once they die.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Looking for America book describes the Edison, Lombardi, and Kilmer rest stops as possible hot spots for heterosexual, homosexual, and prostitution activities respectively.


Eastern Alignment

Western Alignment

I-95 North of Original Turnpike

Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension (I-95)

Newark Bay Extension (I-78)


  • Gillespie, Angus Kress and Rockland, Michael Aaron. Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike. Rutgers University Press, 1989. ISBN 0813514665.

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