Office of the Governor
Governor McGreevey and
Mayor James Open New Route 21 Viaduct
Break Ground on Mccarter Highway Improvements
(Newark) - Governor James E. McGreevey and Mayor Sharpe James today ceremonially opened the southbound lanes of the new $162 million Route 21 Viaduct, which will be opened to traffic in stages over the next few days. They also marked the imminent breaking of ground on improvements that will widen and realign the Route 21 McCarter Highway.
"Today marks two significant milestones in the renaissance of the city of Newark and the improvement of its transportation infrastructure," McGreevey said. "It will provide for Newark to have the safe, uncongested, attractive gateway it deserves."
Paving on southbound lanes of the $162 million federally funded viaduct replacement project is now being completed. DOT will begin moving southbound traffic onto the new viaduct over the weekend and into early next week. At that point, motorists will use the new bridge to travel from Newark toward westbound Route 78 and Route 22 and southbound Routes 1&9.
"Moving traffic onto the new span is an important benchmark in the progress of the entire project," said McGreevey. "The old viaduct has been in service since the Great Depression, and was never intended for the 85,000 motorists who now use it every day."
In approximately six weeks, the old viaduct will be demolished. It was constructed nearly seventy years ago and is now one of the most deficient bridges in the entire state.
By mid-June, the new six-lane span -- with shoulders -- will open for motorists traveling into Newark. When the viaduct and its ramps are fully completed next year, motorists traveling out of Newark will be able to get onto Route 78 East, Route 22 East, and Routes 1&9 North. Drivers coming into the city will have a ramp onto Broad Street.
Governor McGreevey and Mayor James also marked the soon-to-be-broken ground on McCarter Highway (Route 21) improvements between Green and Passaic streets.
A contract for the first of three projects was awarded late in March and work is scheduled to begin early next month. The first project will relocate Route 21 between Raymond Boulevard and Route I-280. Ultimately, $100 million will be spent to add lanes in both directions along this two-mile stretch, creating six through lanes. McCarter Highway also will be straightened and aligned closer to the waterfront to make way for the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Line.
The state, city and county all have worked in partnership to ensure that the McCarter Highway improvements make it safer and easier to travel into and throughout the city of Newark," said McGreevey. "These improvements will do more than simply improve traffic conditions - they will enhance and modernize the community."