Interstate 280 (New Jersey)

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Interstate 280

Essex Freeway
I-280 highlighted in red
Route information
Auxiliary route of I-80
Maintained by NJDOT and NJTA
Length17.85 mi[1] (28.73 km)
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-80 in Parsippany-Troy Hills
Major intersections
East end

I-95 Toll / N.J. Turnpike in Kearny
CountryUnited States
StateNew Jersey
CountiesMorris, Essex, Hudson
Highway system
I-278 Route 284

Interstate 280 (I-280) is a 17.85-mile (28.73 km) Interstate Highway in the US state of New Jersey. It provides a spur from I-80 in Parsippany–Troy Hills, Morris County, east to Newark and I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike) in Kearny, Hudson County. In Kearny, access is provided toward the Holland Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel to New York City. The western part of the route runs through suburban areas of Morris and Essex counties, crossing the Watchung Mountains. Upon reaching The Oranges, the setting becomes more urbanized and I-280 runs along a depressed alignment before ascending again in Newark. I-280 includes a vertical-lift bridge, the William A. Stickel Memorial Bridge, over the Passaic River between Newark and East Newark/Harrison. The highway is sometimes called the Essex Freeway. I-280 interchanges with several roads, including the Garden State Parkway in East Orange and Route 21 in Newark.

A part of present-day I-280 in Newark west of the Stickel Bridge was legislated as Route 25A in 1939, a spur of Route 25 (US Route 1/9 [US 1/9]) that was to run from Jersey City west to Newark. This portion of road would become Route 58 in 1953 (the Route 58 designation was removed in the 1990s). When the Interstate Highway System was being planned, the Route 3 freeway was planned to become an Interstate. The New Jersey State Highway Department favored the Essex Freeway instead between I-80 in Parsippany–Troy Hills to I-95 in Kearny. The latter would become the Interstate and be designated I-280. This road was built in the 1960s and completed west from Newark in 1973. The portion east of Newark to the New Jersey Turnpike opened in 1980. I-280 was once planned to continue east to I-78 near the Holland Tunnel but never was extended east of the New Jersey Turnpike. In the 2000s, the Stickel Bridge was reconstructed after the original structure was determined to be structurally deficient.

Route description

I-280 westbound past CR 527 in Roseland

I-280 begins at I-80 and US 46 in Parsippany–Troy Hills, Morris County, and heads southeast into wooded surroundings as a four-lane freeway.[1][2] The road comes to its first interchange with New Road before crossing the Whippany River into East Hanover Township.[1] The freeway runs near some fields before heading back into woods and entering Roseland, Essex County, at the crossing of the Passaic River.[1][2] Shortly after the Passaic River, I-280 has a cloverleaf interchange with the Eisenhower Parkway (County Route 609 [CR 609]).[1] At this point, the roadway widens to six lanes and runs near wooded suburban areas, passing over the Morristown and Erie Railway's Whippany Line before reaching CR 527 at another cloverleaf interchange.[1][2] Past CR 527, I-280 makes a turn to the east before heading southeast into Livingston and intersecting CR 634.[1] Following this exit, the road enters West Orange and passes through Second Watchung Mountain in a cut. Past the mountain, the road heads back into suburban areas and comes to the exit for CR 636, where the highway widens to eight lanes here and heads east to an interchange with CR 577. After CR 577, I-280 makes a sharp turn to the south and goes through First Watchung Mountain in another cut, resuming into suburbs again and heading south-southeast as it comes interchanges at CR 660 and CR 508 Spur.[1][2]

The terrain becomes urban soon after exit 10, when it enters Orange. Here, I-280 narrows back to six lanes and heads onto a depressed alignment with frequent overpasses, running a short distance to the south of NJ Transit's Morristown Line.[1][2] Along this portion, the roadway has ramps to Essex Avenue, Day Street, and Center Street.[1] Continuing into East Orange, the freeway passes under more streets as it runs next to the Morristown Line, passing south of Brick Church station and interchanging with Harrison and Clinton streets. Near East Orange station, I-280 comes to a full interchange with the Garden State Parkway, which also has access to CR 509 and Oraton Parkway.[1][2] Following this junction, the highway widens to eight lanes before becoming 10 lanes at the border with Newark.[1]

I-280 eastbound approaching the 1st Street exit in Newark

After crossing under more city streets, the roadway comes to exit 13, a left-side exit and entrance to and from the west accessing 1st Street and a ramp from the east to Orange Street.[1][2] At this point, the total number of lanes on the road decreases from 10 to four and I-280 eastbound heads up and over the exit 13 ramps, rejoining the westbound lanes on a bridge over 1st Street, Orange Street, and NJ Transit's Newark Light Rail line. As the road returns to surface level and begins to parallel NJ Transit's Morris & Essex Lines and Montclair-Boonton Line to the north, an unused bridge carries the western end of the 1954 section of freeway over the railroad to Orange Street east of Duryea Street.[1][2][3] After this, I-280 passes under Clifton Avenue, which it has access to, and Nesbitt Street. It rises again to pass over Martin Luther King Boulevard, which is also has access to, Broad Street, and Route 21.[1] Just after a large interchange with Route 21, I-280 crosses the Passaic River again on the six-lane William A. Stickel Memorial Bridge, a 125-foot (38 m) vertical-lift bridge, into Harrison, Hudson County.[1][2][4]

I-280 continues to run just north of the railroad as a six-lane freeway through Harrison, reaching an interchange with CR 508.[1][2] The road continues southeast through urban surroundings before turning east and passing to the north of a railroad yard, splitting from the railroad line as it runs into Kearny and enters the New Jersey Meadowlands. At the final interchange with CR 508, I-280 has access to the Holland Tunnel via Route 7, US 1/9 Truck, and Route 139. Past CR 508, the freeway narrows to four lanes and comes to the toll plaza for the New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95) at exit 15W, at which point I-280 ends. Full access is provided with the Western Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike, which carries through I-95 traffic; ramps to and from the north on the Eastern Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike allow for access to the Lincoln Tunnel via Route 495.[1][2]

Replacement of partial access in central Harrison with service roads, a new interchange, and an overpass (to improve access to Harrison Avenue, the PATH station, and Red Bull Arena, and to give north–south passage to local street traffic) is in the planning stages.[5][6]


Cutout shield for Route 25A
Route 25A (1939–1953)

What is now the easternmost part of I-280 was legislated as Route 25A in 1939. This route was a branch of Route 25 (US 1/9) that ran from Jersey City west through Kearny and Harrison across the Passaic River and into Newark, connecting with Route 21 and Clifton Avenue.[7] The William A. Stickel Memorial Bridge opened on May 17, 1949,[8] with approaches stretching east to Harrison Avenue (now CR 508) in Harrison (crossing Cleveland Avenue and Hamilton Street at-grade) and west beyond Route 21 to Broad Street.[9] Route 25A was redesignated as Route 58 in the 1953 New Jersey state highway renumbering, and, the next year, an extension opened west beyond Clifton Avenue to Orange Street east of Duryea Street.[10][11]

A map of the New York City area showing county borders in addition to proposed interstates, which are in thick black
1955 map, showing the planned Interstate Highway along Route 3

Around the time the Stickel Bridge opened, the Essex Freeway was planned to connect US 46 in Morris County east to the New Jersey Turnpike in Hudson County, with the intention of alleviating traffic along Route 10.[12] During planning for the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s, the Bureau of Public Roads proposed an Interstate Highway along Route 3, to the north of Newark.[13] The New Jersey State Highway Department countered with the proposed Essex Freeway, which would run from I-80 to the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) via the existing Route 58, saying that the Route 3 corridor "does not meet Interstate standards, and cannot be economically converted to such standards."[14] The Essex Freeway was selected as the Interstate corridor, which was called FAI Corridor 105 before being designated I-280 in 1958.[14][15]

View west along I-280 at exit 16 in Harrison

Construction progressed slowly, starting in 1960 near Orange. There were many obstacles that had to be overcome when constructing I-280. The first was whether to build the highway on an elevated or depressed alignment through urbanized areas of East Orange and Newark. Following opposition to the elevated option, it was decided to build I-280 on a depressed alignment through the area.[16][17] In addition, there was an issue of building the road across First Watchung Mountain in West Orange. A tunnel had initially been considered, although the expense of such a project caused this alternative to be rejected. Instead, a rock cut along a longer route was built through the mountain. Much of the material that was excavated from this section of I-280 and east was removed via a temporary rail line that was built in the center of the right-of-way west to I-80.[18][19]

The construction of I-280 destroyed a large part of the historic urban cores of Orange, East Orange, and Newark, while providing a path for shoppers to head to shopping malls in surrounding suburban communities rather than shop in aging downtowns that had been disrupted by the highway construction.[20] Many commercial buildings and historic Victorian homes in Orange and East Orange were demolished in the process.[20][21]

The existing Route 58 highway was extended to the Garden State Parkway on June 9, 1972.[22] I-280 was then fully opened west to I-80 in Parsippany–Troy Hills on June 22, 1973.[23] The portion of I-280 east of Newark was planned on an alignment that would disrupt the fewest homes and would utilize existing railroad and utility right-of-way.[24] The section east from Newark to the New Jersey Turnpike was built in 1979–1980,[25] and opened on October 30, 1980.[26] In the 1966 plans, I-280 was to continue east to I-78 in Jersey City near the Holland Tunnel, following the CR 508 and Route 7 corridors; this was planned again in the 1970s but never built.[19][27]

In the 1990s, the Route 58 designation was officially removed from I-280 through Newark.[28][29] In 2001, the state determined the Stickel Bridge over the Passaic River and its approaches were structurally deficient and was going to need to be replaced after sections of it were falling apart.[4][30][31] Instead of replacing the bridge, in 2007, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) decided to rehabilitate it at a lower cost.[4] Reconstruction of the bridge was completed in April 2009 at a cost of $33 million (equivalent to $45.6 million in 2023[32]).[33]

I-280, like many other highways in New Jersey, once had solar powered emergency callboxes every one mile (1.6 km), however, with the advent of cell phones, the usage of these call boxes became extremely limited. To save on maintenance costs, NJDOT removed these call boxes in 2005.[34]

Exit list

MorrisParsippany-Troy Hills0.000.00
I-80 west – Delaware Water Gap
Direct access to I-80 express lanes; I-80 eastbound exit 47A

To I-287 / US 46 – Mahwah, Morristown
Westbound exit and eastbound entrance to I-80 local lanes
To US 46 / Edwards Road / New Road
No eastbound signage for US 46
EssexRoseland3.876.234Eisenhower Parkway (CR 609)Split into exits 4A (south) and 4B (north)
4.957.975 CR 527 – Livingston, The CaldwellsSplit into exits 5A (south) and 5B (north)
Livingston6.2210.016Laurel Avenue (CR 634)Split into exits 6A (south) and 6B (north) westbound
West Orange7.4912.057Pleasant Valley Way (CR 636) – Millburn, Verona
8.2313.248 CR 577 (Prospect Avenue) – West Orange, Cedar GroveSplit into exits 8A (south) and 8B (north)
9.6415.519Mount Pleasant Avenue (CR 660) – West Orange, MontclairEastbound exit and westbound entrance
9.9115.9510 CR 508 – West Orange, South Orange, MontclairWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
Orange10.6117.0811Center Street – OrangeEastbound exit only
10.8017.3811BDay Street / Essex Avenue – OrangeWestbound exit only
East Orange11.4818.4811A (EB)
12A (WB)
Harrison Street / Clinton Street – East OrangeNo westbound signage for Harrison Street
G.S. Parkway / Oraton Parkway
Signed as exit 12 eastbound; commercial vehicles prohibited
Newark13.1821.2113First Street – Branch Brook ParkEastbound exit and westbound entrance
13.4021.57Orange Street / 6th StreetWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
13.7422.1114AClifton AvenueWestbound exit and entrance
14.1122.7114Martin Luther King Boulevard – Broad Street Station, Rutgers UniversityEastbound exit and entrance
14.4223.2115 Route 21 – Newark, Belleville
Passaic River14.5323.38William A. Stickel Memorial Bridge
HudsonHarrison14.9224.0116Harrison, NewarkAccess via CR 508
Kearny16.8627.1317 CR 508 – Jersey City, KearnySigned as exits 17A (east) and 17B (west); last eastbound exit before toll
17.0527.44Exit 15W Toll Plaza

I-95 Toll / N.J. Turnpike to I-80 west / US 46 – Trenton, Lincoln Tunnel, Secaucus
Exit 15W on I-95 / NJ Turnpike
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s New Jersey Department of Transportation. "Interstate 280 Straight Line Diagram" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Google (January 6, 2010). "Overview Map of I-280" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  3. ^ Bureau of Information Management and Technology Planning Geographic Information Systems (May 3, 2018). New Jersey Municipal Boundaries With Roads (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Trenton: New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Caldwell, Dave (May 27, 2007). "With Repairs and New Paint, a Bridge Is Getting Its Life Extended". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
  5. ^ McNab, Matthew (July 24, 2012). "Designs for New Interstate 280 Exit Interchange in Harrison to Start Simulation Phase". Jersey Journal. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  6. ^ Harrison, NJ Interstate Route 280 Ramp Improvements Study (PDF) (Report). Jacobs Engineering Group. Retrieved November 22, 2013.[page needed]
  7. ^ "Title 27. Highways 27 § 6-1". New Jersey Statutes. February 19, 2021. Retrieved July 5, 2022 – via FindLaw. ROUTE NO. 25A. Beginning at a point in State Highway Route No. 25 in Jersey City and extending via Jersey City, Kearny, Harrison, across the Passaic river at or near the present Bridge street bridge between the counties of Essex and Hudson to and connecting with State Highway Route No. 21 and Clifton avenue in Newark.
  8. ^ "Newark-Harrison Bridge Dedicated". The Courier-News. 1949-05-18. p. 8. Retrieved 2024-01-21.
  9. ^ "Newark Traffic Eased: Ramp From Stickel Bridge to Broad Street Is Opened". The New York Times. September 2, 1950. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  10. ^ New Jersey Department of Highways. "1953 renumbering". New Jersey Department of Highways. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2009 – via Wikisource.
  11. ^ "New Road Signs Ready in New Jersey". The New York Times. December 16, 1952. p. 41. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
  12. ^ Report on East–West and Route 10 Freeways and Connections (Report). New Jersey State Highway Department. 1948.[page needed]
  13. ^ Bureau of Public Roads (September 1955). "New York and Environs" (Map). General Location of National System of Interstate Highways Including All Additional Routes at Urban Areas Designated in September 1955. Scale not given. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. p. 59. OCLC 4165975. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
  14. ^ a b New Jersey State Highway Department (1957). FAI 105 Interstate Highway Corridor: Recommendation Report (Report). New Jersey State Highway Department.[page needed]
  15. ^ Wright, George Cable (September 19, 1958). "New Roads with New Numbers Will Parallel Old U.S. Routes". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  16. ^ Honig, Milton (April 1, 1959). "Depressed Road Backed in Essex". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  17. ^ New Jersey State Assembly (March 2, 1961). Public Hearing on the Depression of Essex Freeway (Report). New Jersey State Assembly.[page needed]
  18. ^ Tri-State Transportation Commission (1962). Regional Highways: Status Report (Report). Tri-State Transportation Commission.[page needed]
  19. ^ a b Tri-State Transportation Commission (1966). Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan (Report). Tri-State Transportation Commission.[page needed]
  20. ^ a b Jacobs, Andrew (April 25, 1999). "Knocked Down, Yes. Knocked Out, Never.; The Town of Orange, No Stranger to Bad News, Struggles to Make Sense of Police Shooting and Its Aftermath". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2022. The 1967 riots that devastated Newark didn't help, but many old-timers say the worst blow was delivered by the bulldozers and wrecking balls that built Interstate 280. Begun in 1961 and opened 12 years later, the east-west highway sliced Orange in half, destroyed a broad swath of the two-mile-wide town and then carried many residents to the emerging suburban frontier in Essex and Morris Counties. Main Street, once lined with stores, three movie theaters and numerous restaurants, also suffered as I-280 introduced shoppers to the mall.
  21. ^ HANDS, Inc (April 2010). Heart of Orange Neighborhood Plan (PDF) (Report). HANDS, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2015.[page needed]
  22. ^ "Another Link Of Route 280 Opens Today". The News. 1972-06-09. p. 2. Retrieved 2024-01-21.
  23. ^ "Cahill uses 280 opening for mass transit appeal". The Herald-News. 1973-06-23. p. 1. Retrieved 2024-01-21.
  24. ^ New Jersey Department of Transportation (1967). Interstate Route 280: Stickel Bridge to I-95 (Report). New Jersey Department of Transportation.[page needed]
  25. ^ State Farm Insurance; Rand McNally (1983). State Farm Road Atlas (Map). State Farm Insurance.[page needed]
  26. ^ "Route 280 link quiets traffic on Harrison Ave". The Jersey Journal. 1980-10-31. p. 3. Retrieved 2024-01-21.
  27. ^ Tri-State Regional Planning Commission (1975). Maintaining Mobility (Report). Tri-State Regional Planning Commission.[page needed]
  28. ^ New Jersey Department of Transportation (1990). "Route 58 Straight Line Diagram" (1990 ed.). New Jersey Department of Transportation. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  29. ^ New Jersey Department of Transportation (1997). "Interstate 280 Straight Line Diagram" (1997 ed.). New Jersey Department of Transportation. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  30. ^ Sterling, Guy (April 20, 2001). "A Bridge Too Old: State Looks to Fix the Stickel". The Star-Ledger. p. 1.
  31. ^ Sterling, Guy (May 2, 2001). "Elevated Route 280 Section Drops Chunks on Newark: Authorities Block Off Parts of Two Streets". The Star-Ledger. p. 25.
  32. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved November 30, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the MeasuringWorth series.
  33. ^ New Jersey Department of Transportation. "I-280 Stickel Bridge Rehabilitation & Reconstruction Overview, Construction Updates, Commuter Information". New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 7, 2010.
  34. ^ Barlas, Thomas (February 28, 2007). "Last Call for N.J.'s Roadside Call Boxes". The Press of Atlantic City.[page needed]

External links