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New Jersey Turnpike: Impromptu American Autobahn or Traffic Riddled Nightmare?
Long ago, a trip from New York City to Philadelphia was a day-long affair. At least in the days before high-speed rail and motor vehicles. In 2021, that same trip can be made in less than a couple of hours.

New Jersey Turnpike: Impromptu American Autobahn or Traffic Riddled Nightmare?

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Why? Much of it has to do with a stretch of highway most famous for its constant traffic jams and hideous multicar accidents. But also for its name-drop in countless pieces of media. This includes music, feature films, and TV shows. In fairness, you could likely make the same argument for any one of the iconic east coast Turnpikes. Be it Ohio, Massachusetts, or Pennsylvania. But there's a charm about the New Jersey Turnpike's character that's all its own.

A major thoroughfare for such a colossal metro area will tend to exude such a unique character. The NJ Turnpike serves as a vital artery between destinations in New Jersey. But also in New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Hundreds of thousands of drivers use these 117 miles (188.62km) of superhighways every day. This equates to hundreds of millions of vehicles per year.

The southern 34 miles (54.7km) of the NJ Turnpike still features the original two lanes the road was built with in the early 50s. The rest consists of stretches with lanes numbering as high as 14. The road reaches its peak lane size outside the bustling NYC satellite city of Newark, New Jersey. The highway bisects the two asymmetrical halves of the state of New Jersey into two sections. One northern and one southern.

Where your house stands in relation to this de-facto border determines a great many things. Whether you're most influenced by the monolithic metropolis culture of New York City or by the smaller, scrappier but no less aggressive culture of Philadelphia. It's possible to traverse the NJ Turnpike from a destination full of people in Eagles and Phillies jerseys. Only to wind up in one full of people in Giants and Mets apparel.

The speed limit of the New Jersey Turnpike is a brisk 65 miles per hour (104.61 kph). Though, veteran travelers of this road know the truth. This highway's unofficial speed limit is a bit different. It's, however, fast whatever you have under the hood can muster. Troopers of the New Jersey State Police are waiting to prevent you from speeding at every twist and turn, of course, especially during quota week. Their choice of menacing black or authoritative blue uniforms can scare the daylights out of you to boot. But that doesn't stop left lane warriors from breaking 90 miles per hour (145kph) on trips from New York to Philly. The end result is over 6 million traffic stops made on New Jersey Highways between 2009 and 2020.

That makes the Turnpike a bit of an impromptu American Autobahn if there ever was one. For context, the A-24 stretch of the German Autobahn between Hamburg and Berlin contains 150 km (93miles) of speed limit free public roads. The NJ Turnpike is almost 30 kilometers longer (8.6 miles) and might as well not have a speed limit. Assuming it isn't a quota deadline week for local law enforcement, that is.

There may not be a speed-limit-free zone in the US at the moment. But this Turnpike happens to blur the lines between American and German highways. Even if for all the wrong reasons. Don't make that an excuse to drive like a maniac on the "Pike," though. You may just wind up another one of its statistics if you do.

Turnpike sections closest to either end of the New York-Philly express are mostly known for the legendary gridlock. With its rep as the US Northeast's hidden slice of autobahn coming a very distant second. Make that third place, actually, after hideous car accidents on a regular basis. The latest figures suggest over 600 people have lost their lives on New Jersey roads in 2021 so far. It's a surefire bet that New Jersey Turnpike Accidents take up a not unsubstantial piece of that total year to year.

So then, the NJ turnpike has all the smooth asphalt of a self-respecting Autobahn. All with distinctly American and metropolitan characteristics. Quirks that could have only developed located at the gateway between two cultural juggernauts of cities.


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