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May 22nd
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N.J. highways as history and archeology

And then there is Route 17. Prior to 1927, the route was designated as Route 17N, which was to run from Newark to the New York state line just north of Mahwah. This route had followed various local streets, including Paramus Road and the Franklin Turnpike north of Hackensack. In 1927, Route 17N became Route 2, which was designated along the portion of Route 17N between Route 7 in North Arlington to the New York border near Suffern, New York. This route was moved to a multilane divided highway alignment north of Rutherford by 1937. Route 2 became Route 17 in 1942 to match the designation of New York State Route 17 for defense purposes during World War II. The entire Route 17 corridor was once planned to be a freeway until the 1960s and later plans to extend the route south of Route 3 to Interstate 280 in 1972 and to the New Jersey Turnpike in 1987. Both failed.

When I last looked a few years ago, there was still an occasional bridge to be found on Route 17 with the prior Route 2, 1927 designation. The same is true for some structures on Route 46 which once had the State Highway 6 designation. It’s been a while. I wonder if they still endure – especially as many bridges have been rebuilt in recent years.

To most, such matters mean nothing. They simply want to get where they have to be as fast as possible. But to some, those old bridges and their inscriptions are part of an interesting story to be told.

Source acknowledgment: Historical background courtesy of Wikipedia.

We also recommend "The Big Roads, The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers who Created the American Superhighways by Earl Swift (Houghton Mifflin, 2011).

Eric Model explores the "offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten" on Sirius XM-Radio and at


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