Ribbon Cut for Route 21 Freeway
Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein today was joined by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J., 8th) and local officials to cut the ceremonial ribbon and open the missing link of the Route 21 Freeway in Passaic County.
"For thirty years, Route 21 just came to a stop," said Gov. Christie Whitman. "Local residents and commuters using the road would just spill on to local streets. They have been waiting for too long a time and enduring traffic that was never intended for city streets. The wait is over, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than finally delivering this project to the patient residents of Clifton and Passaic."
"Route 21 was a missing link in our system that had to be finished. Through the combined efforts of federal, state and local officials, we moved forward on a project that not only will be an addition to the community, but also complements it. This project is another example of how well the Transportation Trust Fund helps make New Jersey a better place to live, work and raise a family," Weinstein added.
"This project is about more than finishing a plan that had been shelved for decades. It is about making things better for the families who call North Jersey home," Pascrell added. "We cannot underestimate the value of taking thousands of trucks and cars off local roads and putting them on the highway where they were intended to travel. Completion of this important artery will provide instantaneous safety benefits and reduce noise for folks, especially in Passaic. This represents a dramatic improvement to the transportation infrastructure of our community."
Route 21 is a 2 mile limited access freeway that runs from Hope Avenue in Passaic to Route 46 in Clifton. The new stretch of highway was unofficially opened to traffic last Wednesday.
The total project cost is $136 million in combined federal and state funds. It includes three new interchanges at Monroe Street and Dayton Avenue in Passaic, and Ackerman Avenue in Clifton. To enhance the aesthetics of the project, nearly every structure (bridges, retaining walls and noise barriers) have been treated with textured finishes, concrete stains and brick veneer.
"This projects represents a how we can build a long-needed road while being sensitive to the community and environment that surrounds it," Weinstein continued. "Extensive work was done to mitigate the impact to the environment, and that work includes such features as parklands, noise walls, tree plantings and landscaping. I know that other states will look to this project as an outstanding example of what can be achieved when we think contextually by balancing necessity, aesthetics and community concerns."
The Transportation Trust Fund provided $45 million toward the overall construction cost. Two construction companies built the project in three sections: J.H. Reid General Contractor of South Plainfield, NJ, and Union Paving and Construction Company of Union, NJ.