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Route 81 is a state highway in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The route is a freeway connector between exit 13A of the New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95) and U.S. Route 1/9 near Newark Liberty International Airport. It runs for 1.18 miles (1.90 km), entirely within the city of Elizabeth in Union County. A freeway called Route S100 was initially proposed on the current alignment of Route 81 in 1938; it, along with its parent Route 100, was never built. The current route was conceived in the 1960s as a freeway replacement for Route 164, which followed Humboldt Avenue, a surface road. It was to be designated Route 76, but was renumbered to Route 81 when Interstate 76 was created in New Jersey.

Route 81 marker

Route 81
Route information
Maintained by NJDOT and NJTA
Length1.18 mi[1] (1.90 km)
Major junctions
South end I-95 / N.J. Turnpike in Elizabeth
North end US 1-9 in Elizabeth
Highway system
I-80Route 82
I-76New Jersey Route 76 shieldRoute 76C

It was legislated in 1966 to run parallel to the New Jersey Turnpike from exit 13 until North Avenue, where it would turn northwest and intersect U.S. Route 1/9 near the airport. The routing was eventually shifted to begin from a new interchange along the New Jersey Turnpike. A total of $50 million in funding was allocated for the road and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was responsible for designing the road. The state had wanted the port authority to pay for construction; however it was ruled that they could not build the road. Construction on Route 81 took place between 1979 and 1982.

Route descriptionEdit

Beginning of northbound Route 81 at I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike) in Elizabeth

Route 81 is a freeway for its entire length through Elizabeth in Union County.[1] It southern terminus is at the toll plaza for exit 13A of the New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95), near the Jersey Gardens outlet mall and Elizabeth Center power center.[1][2] The route heads north from this interchange as a four-lane a 40 mph (64 km/h) freeway maintained by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.[1] A short distance north of the toll plaza, the route comes to an interchange with County Route 624 (North Avenue), which serves the aforementioned shopping areas as well as the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal.[1][2]

Route 81 heads northwest, running in between the travel lanes of North Avenue for a distance, with industrial areas located to the southwest and Newark Liberty International Airport to the northeast.[2] Upon splitting from North Avenue, Route 81 features a northbound ramp to Newark Liberty International Airport and has an interchange with Dowd Avenue.[1] From here, the route continues along the airport property with three northbound lanes and two southbound lanes maintained by the New Jersey Department of Transportation before reaching its terminus at U.S. Routes 1 and 9 just south of the Elizabeth–Newark city line. South of the terminus, ramps allow Route 81 traffic to access either the local or express lanes of US 1/9 as well as Newark Liberty International Airport.[1][2]


Predecessors to Route 81Edit

Route S100 (planned in 1938)

Route S100 was originally proposed as a freeway on the rough alignment of present-day Route 81 in 1938, running between the proposed Route 100 freeway (now the New Jersey Turnpike) and U.S. Route 1/9 and Route 25. However, Route S100 was not built.[3] The original plan in the early 1960s for what is now Route 81 was to connect Newark International Airport with Elizabeth Seaport, bypassing Humboldt Avenue, which at the time was designated Route 164; Humboldt Avenue is no longer a state highway.[4][5] The planned route was initially numbered Route 76, but was renumbered to Route 81 when Interstate 80S in the southern part of the state became Interstate 76.[6] In 1966, Route 81 was legislated to run parallel to the New Jersey Turnpike from Exit 13 near the Goethals Bridge north to the vicinity of North Avenue, and head west along the southern edge of the airport to U.S. 1 & 9.[7] By the 1970s, it was decided by the state of New Jersey to have Route 81 start at a new interchange 13A of the New Jersey Turnpike.[5] In 1975, Governor Brendan Byrne requested $882 million in bonds to construct several roads in New Jersey, including Route 81.[8]

Construction begins and finishesEdit

View south at the north end of Route 81 at US 1/9 in Elizabeth

The state allocated a total of $50 million for construction of Route 81 in 1976, with $16.6 million to be used within the next year, and the design for the proposed road, which was to provide a direct link to Newark Airport, began.[9][10] The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was responsible for designing the road and half of the $1.6 million cost was to be paid for by the port authority while the state and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority were to split the other half.[10] In 1977, the state wanted the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to pay the $50 million to build Route 81 and filed suit.[11] However, the State Court of Appeals ruled in 1978 that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey could not help build the road as it needed permission from both the New Jersey and New York legislatures, who wanted the port authority to focus on mass transit construction to airports.[12]

With the construction of the new interchange on the New Jersey Turnpike, a service area along the turnpike named after William Halsey was subsequently closed down.[13] Exit 13A, in turn, revitalized the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal area. A retail center has arisen on the east side of the New Jersey Turnpike in an Urban Enterprise Zone, accessible from the North Avenue exit off Route 81.[14][15] With the construction of the Jersey Gardens outlet mall, Exit 13A was reconstructed by Schoor DePalma Inc and financed by mall owner Glimcher Realty Trust.[16][17]

Exit listEdit

The entire route is in Elizabeth, Union County.

0.000.00   I-95 / N.J. Turnpike – TrentonExit 13A on I-95 / Turnpike
Exit 13A Toll Plaza
0.200.32Jersey Gardens BoulevardNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
0.200.32North Avenue east (CR 624) / Ikea Drive – Elizabeth Seaport
0.440.71North Avenue west (CR 624) / Dowd Avenue
0.490.79  US 1-9 south – Elizabeth, TrentonNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
0.701.13  Newark Liberty International AirportNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
1.181.90  US 1-9 north – Newark
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Route 81 straight line diagram" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  2. ^ a b c d Google (2009-06-19). "overview of New Jersey Route 81" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  3. ^ State of New Jersey, Laws of 1938, Chapter 50, Page 144, Section 1.
  4. ^ Regional Highways: Status Report. Tri-State Transportation Commission. 1962.
  5. ^ a b Sagner, Alan (July 23, 1975). "Route 81 Project" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 19, 2010. Retrieved 2009-06-19. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ Transportation 1985: A Regional Plan. Tri-State Transportation Commission. 1966.
  7. ^ State of New Jersey, Laws of 1966, Chapter 306, Section 1.
  8. ^ "The $50 million 'Frivolity'" (Fee required). The New York Times. September 14, 1975. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  9. ^ Burks, Edward C. (July 11, 1976). "$185 Million Marked For New Roads" (Fee required). The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  10. ^ a b Burks, Edward C. (May 19, 1976). "Design of Airport Link to Start" (Fee required). The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  11. ^ Waldron, Martin (March 4, 1977). "Trenton Topics - Suit Seeks Port Authority Funds For New Newark-Airport Access" (Fee required). The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  12. ^ "State Fails in Court To Get Road Funds" (Fee required). The New York Times. May 3, 1978. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (December 29, 1992). "Rain + Cold = Treacherous Trips for Commuters". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  14. ^ "New Jersey Initiative - Elizabeth". New Jersey Initiative. July 23, 1975. Archived from the original on May 13, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  15. ^ Martin, Antoinette (April 7, 2002). "In the Region/New Jersey; Brownfields Luring Builders With Good Locations". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  16. ^ Schoor, Howard (September 15, 2009). "Schoor DePalma engineers record of growth". Fast Company. Archived from the original on July 6, 2010. Retrieved 2009-09-21. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  17. ^ Sinderman, Martin (November 1, 1999). "Jersey Gardens...Retail's Urban Oasis". Retail Traffic. Retrieved 2009-09-21. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata