Never Built in Southern NJ: The Route 9 Freeway
For anyone who has ever tried to drive around the Jersey Shore during the summer months, you know how tough traffic can be.
The usual suspects are almost always slow, namely Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
But what if there was a third major highway running up and down the eastern portion of Atlantic County?
Had plans come to fruition, you would be driving on the Route 9 Freeway between Somers Point and Smithville today.
But Route 9 already exists!
Yes -- but there were plans for a second Route 9. The Route 9 Freeway.
As the 1960s turned into the 70s, officials with the State of New Jersey took a careful look at U.S. Route 9 in Atlantic County (apparently, it was awful back then just like it is today) and someone had an idea to build the Route 9 Freeway.
That road would have more or less paralleled the current Route 9 and the idea was that it would be used to make the Garden State Parkway less congested (if only...).
At this point, to further explain the Route 9 Freeway, another unbuilt highway in South Jersey comes into the mix.
State Route 60 was supposed to be a direct connection between the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the Jersey Shore.
Had it been built, Route 60 would have run just north of the Great Egg Harbor in Somers Point and ended in Ocean City (picture Somers Point-Mays Landing Road as a freeway leading into the Route 52 Causeway).
|MORE INFO: Never Built in South Jersey - Route 60 Freeway|
Where Route 60 crossed Somers Point is where the Route 9 Freeway would have started.
From there, the Route 9 Freeway would have gone north, crossed over the just-built Atlantic City Expressway, and ended at County Route 575 in Smithville, roughly somewhere in the area of Parkway Exit 44.
But what about the Parkway?
It's interesting to note that the Garden State Parkway was already open by the time the idea for the Route 9 Freeway was developed, so this other major highway would have been built in addition to the Parkway. You would have had two major highways almost right next to each other along with the existing Route 9.
I suppose you could think of it as how Interstate 295 and the New Jersey Turnpike run right next to each other on the opposite side of South Jersey.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a map or any exact details of where the Route 9 Freeway would have actually been built, but just picture having the equivalent of two Parkway-wide highways running through Somers Point, Linwood, Northfield, EHT, and Galloway.
Will it ever be built?
The blunt answer is no.
Back in the 1970s, the state estimated the project would cost around $35 million. Today, that would be closer to $300+ million.
Even if the money was readily available, environmental regulations would stop the project even before residents in the area started to scream about how it would destroy countless neighborhoods and the quality of life in Atlantic County.
Should it be built?
That's a different question.
I think it's fair to say that we would enjoy being able to get around Atlantic County just a little bit quicker, however, now that the Garden State Parkway is three lanes wide in most of the region, it doesn't need to be constructed.
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