Dated: 12/31/2018

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Soldiers returning home from World War II in 1945 brought back memories of traveling the German Autobahn routes – a road system of European efficiency unlike anything in the United States. Within a few years, highways running the length of entire States were in the works. The Garden State Parkway was a road that was to connect Cape May to New York.

In 1947, construction began on what was initially dubbed the Route 4 Parkway in Union County. Unfortunately, a lack of funds hampered progress, and by 1950, only eleven miles had been completed. A restructuring occurred, and in 1952, the New Jersey Highway Authority was formed to oversee construction and operation of a self-funding highway that derived revenue from tolls and would connect the southern most end of New Jersey to the northern most end.

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                                                                                       Early travel map

The vast majority of the Garden State Parkway was constructed by 1957 under landscape architect and engineer, Gilmore David Clarke, who had worked on the road systems around New York City. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, German Autobahns, and the Merritt Parkway, known for their wide planted medians to minimize night glare and prevent head on collisions, served as design examples. It was intended to have a natural look with signs only for exits and no billboards were permitted. Many trees were planted along the sides of the highway and overpasses were initially made of stone. Curves were to be long and broad to minimize accidents and give maximum line of sight.

The Parkway was supposed to become toll free once the initial bonds used to raise construction funds were paid off. However, ancillary related projects and ongoing maintenance seems to have eradicated the free travel concept. The Garden State Parkway is 172 miles in length, maintains 7 picnic areas, 13 food & fuel service areas, and more than 90 exits. Originally the service areas were staffed by “Parkettes” – female employees in uniform whose duties included providing directions, travel information, and sewing buttons on the coats of travelers in need.

Image title                                                                                    Toll Plaza mid 1950s

In 2003, the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike managing agencies were combined under Governor Jim McGreevey to function as one authority and is currently working on a ten year $7 billion dollar capital improvement campaign to repair bridges, reconfigure entrance and exit ramps, and expand overall capacity.

And if you’re ever looking for me, I’m usually between exits 63 and 68.

From your “Running Realtor” Andrew Gonzales….

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Andrew Gonzales

As a lifelong resident of Ocean County, New Jersey, Andrew Gonzales brings exceptional insight into local market trends, and full knowledge of ordinances, insurance requirements, and FEMA standards. A....

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