New Jersey Route 3

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Route 3

Map of northeast New Jersey with NJ 3 in red and former NJ 153 in pink
Route information
Maintained by NJDOT
Length10.84 mi[1] (17.45 km)
NHSEntire route[1][2]
Major junctions
West end US 46 in Clifton
Major intersections
East end US 1-9 in North Bergen
CountryUnited States
StateNew Jersey
CountiesPassaic, Bergen, Hudson
Highway system
Route 2 Route 4
Route 152Route 153 Route 154

Route 3 is a major state highway in the northeastern part of New Jersey. The route runs 10.84 miles (17.45 km) from U.S. Route 46 (US 46) in Clifton, Passaic County to US 1/9 in North Bergen, Hudson County. The route is a limited-access highway for its entire length, and intersects many major roads, including US 46, which takes travelers to Interstate 80 (I-80) west for commuting out of the city-area, Garden State Parkway and Route 21 in Clifton, Route 17 and the Western Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) in East Rutherford, the Eastern Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike (also I-95) in Secaucus, and Route 495 in North Bergen, for traffic going to the Lincoln Tunnel into New York City. Route 3 serves as the main artery to the Lincoln Tunnel from I-80, in conjunction with a portion of US 46 and Route 495. Portions of the route are not up to freeway standards; with businesses, bus stops, and narrow lanes. Despite this, many construction projects over the years have been underway to alleviate this issue. Route 3 also provided access to Hoffmann La Roche's former American headquarters in Nutley, the Meadowlands Sports Complex and American Dream Meadowlands in East Rutherford. The road inspired a story in The New Yorker in 2004 by Ian Frazier due to its views of the Manhattan skyline. Route 3 was originally the Lincoln Tunnel Approach and ended at the state line in the Hudson River, though it was scaled back following the construction of I-495; which is now Route 495 due to also not meeting interstate highway standards.

Route 3 was originally established in 1927 to run from the New York state border on the west shore of Greenwood Lake to Secaucus. In 1929, the western terminus was cut back to Paterson when the alignment west of there was planned to become part of Route S4B. Route 3 originally followed present-day Route 20 through Paterson and ran along local streets to East Rutherford, where it followed present-day Route 120 and the Paterson Plank Road to Secaucus. It was extended east to the Lincoln Tunnel in 1939. The limited-access section of Route 3 between US 46 in Clifton and East Rutherford was completed in the 1940s as Route S3 as well as the Secaucus Bypass, which was designated a bypass of Route 3. Route 3 was moved to the Route S3 freeway and the Secaucus Bypass in 1953 and was truncated to US 1/9 in North Bergen in 1959 when the Lincoln Tunnel approach was designated as I-495. The Route 3 expressway has seen many improvements over the years such as widening and interchange reconstructions. It underwent a major reconstruction, completed in 2016, to modern highway standards with bridge replacements, including a new Passaic River bridge between Clifton and Route 17 in Rutherford.

Route description

Route 3 westbound at the Garden State Parkway interchange in Clifton

Route 3 heads to the southeast, from an interchange with US 46 and County Route 621 (CR 621, Valley Road) as a six-lane divided highway with a Jersey barrier. It is not up to freeway standards, as it contains a few businesses with right-in/right-out access.[3] The route interchanges with CR 623 (Grove Street) and CR 509 (Broad Street), then the Garden State Parkway, where it passes south of the Allwood Road Park & Ride, a park and ride lot serving NJ Transit buses. All interchange movements are present between Route 3 and the Garden State Parkway, except from the southbound Garden State Parkway to westbound Route 3 and from eastbound Route 3 to the northbound Garden State Parkway.[1]

Past the Garden State Parkway, Route 3 interchanges with CR 622 (Bloomfield Avenue), before it passes over Norfolk Southern's Newark Industrial Track line and intersects CR 603 (Passaic Avenue), which heads south into Nutley to become Route 7. The next interchange is for CR 601 (Main Avenue). Past that interchange, Route 3 passes over NJ Transit's Main Line and comes to an interchange with the Route 21 freeway before passing over the route.[1]

Route 3 eastbound past Route 17 in Rutherford

Route 3 crosses the Passaic River on a fixed bridge, which replaced a double-leaf trunnion bascule bridge in 2013, into Rutherford, Bergen County.[1][3][4] Just after crossing the river, the route interchanges with CR 507 (Riverside Avenue). The freeway continues through a residential area and comes to an exit that provides access to southbound Route 17. Past this interchange, Route 3 is closely paralleled by Route 17 to the south until Route 3 interchanges again with Route 17, which continues to the north of Route 3.[1]

The route widens to eight lanes and enters the New Jersey Meadowlands, crossing into East Rutherford and then passing over NJ Transit's Bergen County Line and Berrys Creek. Route 3 passes to the south of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, containing MetLife Stadium (the home stadium of the New York Giants and New York Jets of the National Football League), and the Meadowlands Racetrack.[1][3] The route narrows back to six lanes and comes to a ramp which provides access to the Western Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95). Route 3 interchanges with Route 120 and the carriageways separate. The route passes under the Western Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike and becomes eight lanes again.[1]

Route 3 eastbound at exit for the Eastern Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) in Secaucus

The Route 3 Bridge crosses the Hackensack River into Secaucus, Hudson County. It interchanges with the Meadowlands Parkway and continues southeast into a residential area with the carriageways joining back together.[1][3] At the interchange with CR 681 (Paterson Plank Road), Route 3 widens into a local-express lane configuration with three express lanes and local lanes each in the eastbound direction and two express lanes and three local lanes in the westbound direction. The route passes by the Mill Creek Mall and crosses under the Eastern Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95).[1][3] Route 3 comes to an eastbound exit and entrance with Harmon Meadow Boulevard and features a cloverleaf interchange with Paterson Plank Road. The route crosses the Penhorn Creek into North Bergen. In North Bergen, the route comes to a truck-restricted eastbound ramp for eastbound Route 495. Route 3 then interchanges with Route 495, which provides access to the New Jersey Turnpike and the Lincoln Tunnel. Past this interchange, the local-express lane configuration ends and Route 3 heads southeast as a four-lane highway. The route meets a westbound exit and entrance for the North Bergen Park & Ride serving NJ Transit buses and passes over New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway's New Jersey Subdivision line and Conrail Shared Assets Operations' Northern Branch line before it comes to its terminus at a traffic light with US 1/9 south, with no direct access from Route 3 east to US 1/9 north.[1]

The entire length of Route 3 is part of the National Highway System.[1][2]


1955 Yellow Book map of New York City, showing a planned Interstate Highway along the Route 3 corridor.

Route 3 roughly follows the course of the Paterson and New York Plank Road (more commonly known as the Paterson Plank Road) legislated in 1851 to run from Paterson to a ferry at Hoboken. The portion of this road running east from Passaic was legislated as an unnumbered state route in 1926. In the 1927 New Jersey state highway renumbering, Route 3 was legislated to run from the New York border on the west shore of Greenwood Lake to Route 1 (now US 1/9) in Secaucus.[5][6] In 1929, the route west of Paterson was designated to become part of Route S4B, a spur of Route 4, and Route 3 was modified to end at Route S4B north of Paterson. A spur of Route 3, Route S3, was also legislated to connect the highway from East Rutherford north to Route 6 in Clifton. Route S4B was never built west of Oakland, but the portion that was built became Route 208 in 1953.[7][8]

Following the 1929 amendments, Route 3 ran from Paterson along today's Route 20, through Clifton, Passaic, Wallington, Carlstadt, and East Rutherford along local streets, and finally down Paterson Plank Road (part of which is today's Route 120) to Secaucus.[9][10] A spur from the Plank Road to North Bergen opened sometime around 1932.[11] On July 1, 1934, a bypass around the original Paterson Plank Road bridge over the Hackensack River was opened, parts of which were later incorporated into today's Route 120.[12] By 1938, plans were in place to bypass the Plank Road to the north, going north of Wood Ridge and Wallington and replacing River Road up to Route 6, where it would rejoin the old alignment.[13] In 1939, Route 3 was extended east along present-day Route 495 to the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan.[14]

Route S3

LocationCliftonEast Rutherford

Plans to construct Route S3 were begun in the mid-1930s, initially as a surface arterial road. To this end, Allwood Road in Clifton was upgraded to a state highway between the Newark Branch of the Erie Railroad and Hepburn Road. In addition, a temporary route was signed from Route 23 in Little Falls, along Main Street, Long Hill Road, Notch Road, Route 6, Valley Road, Van Houten Avenue, and River Drive to end at the Paterson Plank Road.[15] Construction on new sections started in 1940, but it was interrupted by World War II.[16] It would resume as a freeway, with the first new section opening between Route 17 to Route 3 (now Route 120) on August 6, 1945.[17] Small sections of the new freeway extended the existing highway out to Bloomfield Avenue in Clifton, excepting the portion between Passaic Avenue and River Road, on July 1, 1949.[18] The whole freeway was opened on September 12, 1949,[19] while a bypass of Secaucus that was designated as a bypass of Route 3 had opened a month earlier on August 1.[20] The freeway had cost a total of $10 million to build and cut commuting times between Northern New Jersey and Manhattan.[21] Before the freeway was completed, Allwood Road was returned to Passaic County and is currently CR 602.[16] In 1942, a spur of Route S3 in Clifton was commissioned; this became Route S3 Spur in 1948 and Route 161 in 1953, the year that the road was opened.[8][22][23]

In the 1953 New Jersey state highway renumbering, Route 3 was realigned to follow the entire length of the Route S3 freeway. In addition, Route 3 in Secaucus was shifted off the Paterson Plank Road to the newly built Secaucus Bypass. The original alignment of Route 3 through Secaucus (partly now known as Flanagan Way) became Route 153; the entire route was eliminated by the late 1980s.[24][25] The remaining sections under state maintenance were designated as Route 20, still under the assumption that they would be joined in the future. In the mid-1950s, Route 3 was planned as one of the original routes of the Interstate Highway System; however, the New Jersey State Highway Department had deemed it too expensive to bring it up to Interstate Highway standards and I-280 was favored instead.[26] In 1959, the Lincoln Tunnel approach was designated as I-495 and Route 3 was truncated back to US 1/9 in North Bergen.[27][28]

East end of Route 3 at US 1/9 in North Bergen

Many improvements have been made to Route 3. Where once its eastern terminus was a true traffic circle, this was modified in 1960 to be a Y-intersection with U-turn ramps in the median; these were removed in 1965.[29] At the Hackensack River, a new bridge carrying westbound traffic opened on June 30, 1963.[30] The reopening of the old, now eastbound, bridge in 1964 marked the completion of the reconstruction of the Route 20, Paterson Plank Road, and New Jersey Turnpike interchanges,[31] the last of which was largely eliminated, rerouting traffic to exit 16.[32] In the 1970s, the interchanges with Route 17, the New Jersey Turnpike western spur, and Route 120 were improved with the construction of the Meadowlands Sports Complex in the area. The bridge over the Berrys Creek, originally built in 1948, was reconstructed in the mid-1990s and Route 3 was widened to eight lanes in the area near the bridge.[33] In 2003, the interchange with Route 495 and the intersection with US 1/9 was improved at a cost of $16 million.[34]

Plans were made to improve Route 3 near the Meadowlands Sports Complex with the construction of the American Dream shopping and entertainment complex. An overpass between eastbound Route 3 and northbound Route 120 was completed in May 2009 at a cost of $38.1 million, a flyover from southbound Route 120 to eastbound Route 3 was completed in early 2010 at a cost of $13 million, and improvements to the New Jersey Turnpike interchange was completed in the later part of 2010 at a cost of $49 million.[35][36]

Route 3 underwent a major reconstruction to modern highway standards with noise walls installed and bridge replacements, including the new Passaic River bridge that is now functional, between Main Avenue in Clifton and Route 17 in Rutherford. All work was completed by 2016.[37] In a separate project, the roadway was resurfaced in 2013 from just west of the Route 17 north interchange to US 1/9 in North Bergen.[38]

The NJDOT is rebuilding the interchange at US 46 and Valley Road in Clifton. This project will reconfigure ramps, bring bridges up to standard, and will provide for three-lane connections between Route 3 and US 46. It is projected to cost more than $250 million. Construction on the first contract began in December 2015 with completion by October 2019. Construction on the second contract began in February 2020.[39][40] In January 2022, the officials announced funding of a project to replace the 1934 eastbound bridge over the Hackensack River. The new bridge structure will be able to support adding light rail over the bridge in the future. The plan is to have a new light rail line from Secaucus Junction to MetLife Stadium and American Dream Meadowlands, but funding for the light rail is not immediately available.[41]

In popular culture

View east along Route 3 westbound as it crosses the Hackensack River in the Meadowlands, with the New York City skyline visible in the distance

Route 3 was the inspiration for a story in The New Yorker in 2004 by Ian Frazier, for its iconic views of the Manhattan skyline.[42] In this story, Frazier describes a bus journey along the route, mentioning scenes along the road such as traffic congestion, the Meadowlands Sports Complex, and the Tick Tock Diner off Route 3 in Clifton. He also described a walking journey he once took into New York City along Route 3, encountering heavy, noisy traffic speeding by and debris along the side of the road.[42]

In a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Horatio Sanz and Derek Jeter, the fictional business "Derek Jeter's Taco Hole" is on Route 3 in Nutley, New Jersey between Kinko's and "El Duque's Shoe Repair". (Route 3 does not actually pass through Nutley.)

Exit list

All exits are unnumbered.


US 46 west to I-80 west / Route 23
Western terminus of Route 3
Valley Road (CR 621) – Montclair, PatersonWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
0.510.82Grove Street (CR 623) – Montclair, Paterson
1.262.03Broad Street (CR 509) – Bloomfield, Paterson

G.S. Parkway
Exit 153 on G.S. Parkway; no eastbound access to GSP north
2.644.25Bloomfield Avenue (CR 622) – Bloomfield, Passaic
3.415.49 Route 7 (Passaic Avenue/CR 603) – Nutley, Passaic
3.826.15Main Avenue (CR 601) – Nutley, Passaic
Western end of freeway section
4.707.56 Route 21 – Newark, PassaicRoute 21 exit 9
To CR 507 – Rutherford, Lyndhurst
Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Ridge Road (Route 17 south) / Park Avenue (CR 30) to Riverside Avenue (CR 507) – Rutherford, Lyndhurst
No eastbound exit
Route 17 / Service Road – Lyndhurst, Rutherford
East Rutherford7.2111.60

To Route 120 north – East Rutherford, Sports Complex, American Dream
No westbound exit

I-95 Toll / N.J. Turnpike – George Washington Bridge, Newark
Exit 16W of the Western Spur

Route 120 north – East Rutherford, Sports Complex, American Dream
No eastbound exit
Hackensack RiverBridge
HudsonSecaucus8.6013.84Meadowlands Parkway

I-95 Toll south / N.J. Turnpike south / Paterson Plank Road – Secaucus
Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
9.8915.92Harmon Meadow BoulevardWestbound exit is via Route 495
10.0416.16Paterson Plank Road (CR 681) – North Bergen, SecaucusWestbound exit is via Route 495
North Bergen10.3316.62
Route 495 east – Lincoln Tunnel
Eastbound exit and westbound entrance

I-95 Toll / N.J. Turnpike
No westbound entrance; exits 16E-17 of the Eastern Spur
Route 495 east / Kennedy Boulevard (CR 501) – Lincoln Tunnel, New York City
Eastbound exit only
Route 495 east – Park and Ride
Westbound exit and entrance
10.8417.45 US 1-9 – Jersey CityAt-grade intersection; eastern terminus of Route 3; no eastbound access to US 1-9 north
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Route 3 straight line diagram" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  2. ^ a b National Highway System: New Jersey (PDF) (Map). Federal Highway Administration. September 30, 2020. Retrieved April 11, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d e Google (December 1, 2008). "overview of New Jersey Route 3" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved December 1, 2008.
  4. ^ Greenberg, Adam (February 15, 2013). "Route 3 project will be completed spring 2014". Clifton Journal. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  5. ^ State of New Jersey, Laws of 1927, Chapter 319.
  6. ^ 1927 New Jersey Road Map (Map). State of New Jersey. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
  7. ^ a b State of New Jersey, Laws of 1929, Chapter 126.
  8. ^ a b c "1953 renumbering". New Jersey Department of Highways. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2009. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Map of Passaic County N.J. (Map). Rutgers University Cartography Services. 1936. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
  10. ^ Map of Bergen County New Jersey (Map). Rutgers University Cartography Services. 1949. Retrieved March 30, 2009.
  11. ^ "It's The Little Things". Press of Atlantic City. 1932-07-06. p. 9. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  12. ^ "PLANK ROAD RESIDENTS HOPING AGAINST HOPE". The Herald-News. 1934-08-08. p. 11. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  13. ^ McClave, Roscoe Parke (January 1938). Map of Bergen County, N.J. (Map).
  14. ^ "Approach to Open for Lincoln Tube: New Jersey's Latest Highway Which Will be Opened Today". The New York Times. June 30, 1939. p. 6. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  15. ^ New Jersey State Highway Department (1939). General Highway Map of Passaic County, New Jersey (Map).
  16. ^ a b Mathieu, George M. (August 10, 1941). "To Aid Users of Tunnel: Road Work in New Jersey Also Will Cut Time to the Bridge". The New York Times. p. XX5. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  17. ^ "New S-3 Highway Link Open". The Herald-News. 1945-08-07. p. 11. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  18. ^ "State Opens Three New Highway Links". Asbury Park Press. 1949-07-01. p. 12. Retrieved 2024-06-05.
  19. ^ "Governor Opens New S-3 At Dedication Rites In Rutherford". The Record. 1949-09-13. p. 1. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  20. ^ "Secaucus By-Pass Opens Today". The Courier-News. 1949-08-01. p. 13. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  21. ^ "Secaucus Road To Open: Jersey's New By-Pass Will Cut Commuting Time of Thousands". The New York Times. July 31, 1949. p. 17. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  22. ^ State of New Jersey, Laws of 1942, Chapter 77.
  23. ^ State of New Jersey, Laws of 1948, Chapter 221.
  24. ^ Hudson County Road Map – Sheet 2 (Map). Rutgers University Cartography Services. 1965. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  25. ^ State Farm Road Atlas (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally. State Farm Insurance. 1983.
  26. ^ FAI 105 Interstate Highway Corridor: Recommendation Report. New Jersey State Highway Department. 1957.
  27. ^ Wright, George Cable (September 19, 1958). "New Roads with New Numbers Will Parallel Old U.S. Routes". The New York Times. p. 29. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  28. ^ "Route 495 Straight Line Diagram" (PDF). Internet Archives WayBack Machine. New Jersey Department of Transportation. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 21, 2006. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  29. ^ "State Closing Tonnelle Ave. Cut; Nort Bergen Saw Flop at Start". The Jersey Journal. 1965-03-26. p. 6. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  30. ^ "Hughes Dedicates New Bridge, Deplores Route 3 Death Crash". The Record. 1963-07-03. p. 4. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  31. ^ "Holiday Exodus Starts; Traffic Jam on Route 3". The Herald-News. 1964-05-29. p. 1. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  32. ^ "Rt. 3 Turnpike Exit to Close". The Herald-News. 1963-06-20. p. 1. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  33. ^ "Route 3 Passaic River Crossing Project – Construction Updates". New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  34. ^ Route 3: Passaic River Crossing. New Jersey Department of Transportation. 2001.
  35. ^ Brennan, John (May 1, 2009). "Newstracker: Road, rail improvements on track for Xanadu project". The Record. Highbeam Research. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013. Please use the correct URL-access parameter in the citation template.
  36. ^ Brennan, John (November 17, 2008). "Finally on Track: Sports complex rail, roads racing to the finish line". The Record. vLex. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013. Please use the correct URL-access parameter in the citation template.
  37. ^ "Route 3 Passaic River Crossing". New Jersey Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved November 17, 2008.
  38. ^ Stein, Ron (March 18, 2013). "Feds announce $8.6 million project to resurface four miles of Route 3 in Secaucus, North Bergen". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  39. ^ "Route 46/Route 3/Valley Road and Notch Road Interchanges". New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 17, 2008.
  40. ^ "Route 46/Route 3/Valley Road and Notch Road Interchanges - Frequently Asked Questions". New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  41. ^ Maher, Jake. "Pols announce $143 million Route 3 bridge over Hackensack River and talk of light rail, too". The Jersey Journal. No. 25 January 2022. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  42. ^ a b Frazier, Ian (February 16, 2004). "Route 3: What I saw on the road through New Jersey". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 11, 2013.

External links