With increases in the Covid numbers many of us are curtailing our travel and limiting the number of family and friends at our tables. I also read and heard on the news that many of us will be driving instead of flying to our Christmas destinations.

Townsquare Media
Townsquare Media

 It’s ironic that it was 70 years ago this November when the New Jersey Turnpike opened making life so much easier for Thanksgiving travelers. It is 148 miles of no stop lights, a toll or two or three but no stop lights. It was November 5th , 1951 when cars could hit the highway and head all the way down to Salem County.

Garden State Parkway sign
Garden State Parkway sign (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

I grew up in the Bronx and we used to spend a lot of time at the Jersey Shore. Our relatives lived down there and we spent summers and holidays chugging down the Turnpike and then the Garden State Parkway which opened in October of 1956.

Google Maps
Google Maps (RT 9)

I can remember driving in my grandfather’s Oldsmobile down there with him smiling saying “how we’re going to make great time”. I’ve know nothing but the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway in my lifetime as they were both open before I was born. However, for my grandfather, coming down to the shore on the two lane route 9 was absolutely a brutal trek and it would take 3 or 3 ½ hours and my mom would say that they would have to leave at some god forsaken time to get there at a “decent hour”.

Delay on the southbound NJ Turnpike approaching the Delaware Memorial Bridge

Now when I go to the Bronx from my Jersey Shore home, I can get there in an hour and ten minutes door to door, sometimes even quicker.

In 2019 there were over 266 million vehicles that traveled the New Jersey Turnpike. New statistics show that since the Covid virus there are

Exit 6 from I-195 to the NJ Turnpike in Robbinsville
Exit 6 from I-195 to the NJ Turnpike in Robbinsville (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

38 million less cars that have used the Turnpike, over 48 million less have used the Garden State Parkway. While both roadways have their issues, I’m still glad that we have them. Makes getting to where I want to go just a little quicker. Stay safe this Christmas.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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