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These initial sections of NJ 58 formed part of the new Essex Freeway, which was to continue west through Newark into the area of Parsippany.Most of the new route was to parallel NJ 10, a congested, two-lane radial route.In the mid-1950's, the Federal Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) selected the NJ 3 corridor between the Lincoln Tunnel and I-80 (Bergen-Passaic Expressway) for preliminary eligibility under the Federal Interstate system (as "FAI 105").
However, there was some speculation that politicians in Essex County, which comprised the second largest delegation in Trenton, successfully influenced officials to realign the proposed Interstate highway to fit almost entirely inside the county.
In 1957, the Federal Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) authorized construction of the $157 million Essex Freeway between the Bergen-Passaic Expressway (I-80) in Parsippany and the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) in Kearny.
(The Hoboken Freeway corridor did not receive Interstate funding.) One year later, the Essex Freeway received a new designation: I-280.
(Photo by Steve Anderson.) Interstate 280, originally known as the Essex Freeway, had its beginnings as NJ 25A, a 1.1-mile-long highway connecting Clifton Avenue in downtown Newark with Grant Avenue in Harrison. Stickel Memorial Bridge, a four-lane span carrying NJ 25A over the Passaic River, was opened to traffic.
Named after a one-time Essex County engineer, the 125-foot-long vertical span has a vertical clearance of 35 feet over mean high water.
The same year that the Stickel Bridge opened, the New Jersey State Highway Department proposed the Essex Freeway, an east-west road stretching from the proposed New Jersey Turnpike in Hudson County to US 46 in Morris County.In 1954, one year after the highway was re-christened NJ 58, an approach stretching one-half to the west of the lift span was opened to traffic.This 1999 photo shows the westbound I-280 at EXIT 12 (Garden State Parkway) in East Orange.The depressed roadway alternative resulted from intense community opposition to the original elevated highway alternative.The bridges over I-280 were constructed several years before the roadway was completed.Space was left at this interchange for the unbuilt NJ 75 Freeway.