1920s NJ Highways FAQ

What years were the old route numbers used?

According to David Mudge at NJDOT: "Officially, there have been several route numbering systems utilized by DOT and its predecessors.

Beginning in 1916, with the passage of Chapter 285, PL, 1916, known as the Egan Bill, an original system of 13 routes was designated throughout the state. This is detailed in the DOT Annual Report for 1916, pp. 90-92.

The following year, the Edge Bill, or Chapter 14, PL, 1917, also provided for a state highway system, and also provided more details as to responsibilities, funding, maintenance, etc. This bill also increased the number of routes to 15. The routes are described in the DOT annual Report for 1917, pp. 19-22, while the law itself is repeated on pp. 87 ff.

By 1921, the Edge Bill had been modified to include 16 separate routes, and some expansions to the original ones from 1917. A lot of these changes are detailed in Chapter 322, PL. 1921 and others. Many of the details can be found in the DOT Annual Report for 1921, pp. 115-116.

By 1923, additional routes had been added to the system, in the form of public law (PL). These additional routes included two different Route 17's, two different Route 18's (there are actually 3 - ed.), a Rt. 19, two different Route 20's, and an un-numbered route in the southern part of the state."

By 1927, a revised Route numbering system, involving now 40 routes, was adopted by the Highway Department. I also believe that route designation was taken out of the hands of the legislature at this time, and given to the State Highway Commission."

That being said, the earliest bridge stamping we found using the old numbers was from 1919, and the latest was from 1927. We've seen stampings from 1929 that had the newer numbering system used.

After the 1927 renumbering, were there remnants of the old numbers?

Some of Route 1 retained the number, as did a large segment of Route 4. Parts of Routes 4, 5, and 8 were renamed as 4N, 5N, and 8N respectively. 18-N remained the same but disappeared shortly thereafter.

Why are there repeating route numbers?

According to David Mudge at NJDOT: "The problem at that time was that the routes were being designated through public laws, assembly and senate bills, with no central organizing oversight. Local politicians would propose a route in their district and try to get it through both houses. Because of this haphazard system, as each bill was written up, the staff would use the next available number. Since many times similar types of bills were being introduced, the same route number would be specified in more than one bill. As these bills were considered and passed, either no one cared, or for reasons of political power plays, sponsors would not yield "their" number to other sponsors, resulting in routes with the same number. Since the bills were voted into law, the Highway Commission did not have the power to modify routes, including the route number. The best they could do was to utilize a "north-south" designation."

Why are there missing route numbers?

According to David Mudge at NJDOT: "There was often considerable lag time between a route being designated and its actual creation. In some cases, county and local roads were merely taken over to form a route. In other cases, considerable lengths of new road would have to be built. Due to scarce resources, it took years to actually construct some routes. In the case of the "missing" Route 19, I suspect that it involved considerable new alignment that was beyond the limited capacity of the Highway Department to construct at that time. Remember, buying up new right of way was a costly and time consuming process also. This is probably the reason why only one of the two authorized Route 20's was constructed."

Were the old route markers color-coded?

We have researched this from various sources. The markers page discusses this further and shows several sample markers.

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