This 2001 photo shows the eastbound US 322 approach heading away from the Commodore Barry Bridge, at the interchange for US 130 in Bridgeport. The controlled-access highway ends just past this interchange, but was planned for many years to extend past US 130. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)

PLANNED AS A PARKWAY: In 1932, the Regional Planning Federation (the predecessor agency to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission) proposed a network of four-lane parkways that were to be patterned after the recreational routes developed by Robert Moses in the New York area. One of the parkways was proposed along the US 322 alignment from Bridgeport east to the Camden-Atlantic City Parkway (which was to be constructed along the present-day Atlantic City Expressway alignment). However, without a strong "power broker" such as Moses in the Delaware Valley, the parkway system was never constructed.

A NEW FREEWAY ALONG US 322: In 1960, the New Jersey State Highway Department mapped out a network of proposed freeways that was to supplement the existing network of toll roads and Interstate highways. One of these routes, the east-west US 322 Freeway, was to provide improved access from southeastern Pennsylvania through Gloucester County. The freeway was to ultimately connect to a limited-access route linking the Philadelphia-Camden metropolitan area with Atlantic City. With its connections to the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295, the proposed route would have also provided an improved route to the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The proposed US 322 Freeway received a boost in 1963 when the Delaware River Port Authority announced plans for a new Chester, Pennsylvania and Bridgeport, New Jersey. The new Chester-Bridgeport Bridge, which eventually became known as the Commodore Barry Bridge, was the more southerly of two proposed crossings suggested by the DRPA. Combined with the new bridge, the US 322 Freeway was intended to spur suburban growth in Gloucester County.

In 1967, the state highway department, now reorganized as the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), described the proposed US 322 Freeway as follows:

The new US 322 will be a freeway on new alignment. It will connect at the proposed Chester Bridgeport (Commodore Barry) Bridge with NJ 42 in the vicinity of Williamstown. The present alignment of US 322 is a land-service, two-lane road that will be inadequate to serve future traffic when the bridge is opened.

The proposed 21.2-mile-long US 322 Freeway was estimated to cost $59.6 million.

In 1970, the state submitted a section of the proposed US 322 Freeway - from the Commodore Barry Bridge to I-295 - for inclusion into the Interstate highway system Interstate highway system to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 1970. However, the FHWA denied the request.

There was no explicit mention of a direct connection to the Atlantic City Expressway, but a direct link may have been provided at a future date. Although the US 322 Freeway remained on official plans as late as the mid-1970's, a growing shift toward mass transit funding placed the route off the NJDOT priority funding list by the end of that decade.

THE 1983 PROPOSAL: In 1983, Congressman William J. Hughes (D-Ocean City) recommended construction of a much longer turnpike along the US 40 corridor. The proposed 60-mile-long turnpike, which was to be administered by the New Jersey Expressway Authority (now the South Jersey Transportation Authority), was to connect the Delaware Memorial Bridge eastern approach with Atlantic City. However, a study conducted by the NJDOT concluded that the volume of traffic between Atlantic City and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, where the New Jersey Turnpike begins, was not high enough to require a new highway.

Proponents of the turnpike cited the doubling of traffic counts along US 40 since casino gambling was legalized in Atlantic City in 1976, as well as the sharp increase in accidents along the two-lane road. Opponents feared that the road would spur uncontrolled development through rural Salem, Gloucester and Atlantic counties.

THE 1987 PROPOSAL: In 1987, Hughes proposed a 14-mile, four-lane connecting route between EXIT 2 of the New Jersey Turnpike and the Atlantic City Expressway. The toll expressway, which would have paralleled US 322 (along the route of the originally proposed free expressway), was to have been administered by the New Jersey Expressway Authority. It would also have an interchange with the NJ 55 Freeway, providing a connection to Cape May County.

Hughes said that the turnpike link would not only benefit a number of regional toll authorities, but also bolster the economy of southern New Jersey.

THE 1995 PROPOSAL: In 1995, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority unveiled plans for a new four-lane toll expressway along the route of the original US 322 Freeway. The new turnpike spur, which was to connect the Commodore Barry Bridge with the Atlantic City Expressway, was to also serve traffic from the newly completed I-476 ("Blue Route") in Pennsylvania. Connections were also to be provided with I-295 in Bridgeport, the New Jersey Turnpike in Swedesboro, and the NJ 55 Freeway in Glassboro.

The new proposal would have required the condemnation of approximately 500 homes and businesses, as well as the acquisition of land from the Glassboro and Winslow fish and wildlife management areas. Reacting promptly, local residents, civic groups, school boards, the New Jersey Environmental Lobby and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (a New York-based pro-transit group) banded together to fight the controversial proposal. One month later, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority withdrew the proposed turnpike spur.

More recent proposals have focused on reducing congestion and traffic demand management along the US 322 corridor. Jeff Taylor, South Jersey contributor to and misc.transport.road, provided the following information on US 322:

Actually, US 322 has not had a problem with "NIMBY's" until recently. Only about 20% of the route has significant development, with the rest of the route being rural. The NJDOT never had a reason to expand US 322 until the early 1990's, when I-476 was completed in Pennsylvania. Since then, traffic counts have tripled along US 322 in South Jersey, and extensive development in Mullica Hill has only exacerbated this condition. In my opinion, regional planning organizations should have performed studies that would have determined that traffic from I-476 would utilize US 322 in New Jersey.

Traffic still flows well on US 322 during off-peak periods, but congestion is quite noticeable during peak periods. Several years ago, some residents along the road complained that traffic, especially traffic headed for the shore, was going too fast on the roadway, and the speed limit needed to be lowered from 50 MPH to 45 MPH. The NJDOT did reduce the speed limit as a friendly gesture, but the speed reduction isn't all that it's cracked up to be. The shore-bound traffic is normally jammed up anyway, so whether the limit is 50 MPH or 45 MPH, traffic isn't going to reach that speed. During weekdays, mostly local residents use the road, so the speed reduction impacts those who were complaining about it the most!

In the past few years, upgrades of US 322 have been discussed, but for various reasons of one or another, each proposal was frowned upon. Currently, an engineering firm is under contract to determine how the NJDOT should proceed with upgrading US 322 in a way that would be satisfactory to most of the affected towns.

The NJDOT and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission will conduct a $1.0 million study during 2003 on potential improvements to US 322. The study, which will cover the area from the Commodore Barry Bridge southeast to the NJ 55 Freeway, will define specific improvements and initiate preliminary engineering for selected locations within the US 322 corridor.

To provide improved access between Atlantic City and points west, the US 322 Freeway proposal should be resurrected. The new US 322 Freeway would serve as a southern bypass of the Philadelphia-Camden metropolitan area, and as a more direct route to the New Jersey shore from southern parts of the Middle Atlantic region.

A longer route and relatively few exits should serve to mitigate effects on the environment and affected areas. Interchanges should only be located at US 130 and I-295 in Bridgeport, the New Jersey Turnpike in Swedesboro, the NJ 55 Freeway in the Clayton-Monroeville area, the existing US 322 just south of Williamstown, and the Atlantic City Expressway in Hammonton.

SOURCES: Regional Plan of the Philadelphia Tri-State District, Regional Planning Federation (1932); "New Jersey Builds Better Highways," New Jersey State Highway Department (1961); New Jersey Highway Facts, New Jersey Department of Transportation (1967); 1985 Regional Transportation Plan, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (1969); "Hughes Presses for New Route" by Carlo M. Sardella, The New York Times (6/26/1983); "Jersey To Review Need for Highway," The New York Times (11/04/1984); "Route 55 Extension Plan Due" by Carlos M. Sardella, The New York Times (8/16/1987); Tri-State Transportation Committee; Stéphane Dumas; Raymond C. Martin; Christopher G. Mason; Dan Moraseski; Brian Polidoro; Jeff Taylor.

  • US 322 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • Atlantic City Expressway shield by James Lin.
  • New Jersey Turnpike shield by New Jersey Turnpike Authority.


Back to The Roads of Metro Philadelphia home page.

Site contents © by Eastern Roads. This is not an official site run by a government agency. Recommendations provided on this site are strictly those of the author and contributors, not of any government or corporate entity.