Building it

Choices and Consequences

Elizabeth's Struggle
Newspaper Coverage, 1949-1951

For months, the dilemma in Elizabeth played out in the daily papers: would the Turnpike be routed through the city? Read through the following transcriptions to see what unfolded. After Elizabeth lost several court cases to divert the Turnpike, construction began in the winter of 1950. But city officials responded with their own tactics, and it all reached a boiling point when two children accidentally drowned in a water-filled pit left by construction workers.

City Engineer Tells Eastern Union C. of C. That Decision Was Set Against Riverfront Line

Newark Evening News, December 9, 1949

Staff Correspondent

     ELIZABETH. City Engineer Collins yesterday conceded that his proposed plan for construction of the New Jersey Turnpike along the city's waterfront was doomed. He made the statement in addressing the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Union County on his plan and the one which advocates use of Fourth street for the toll road which was made for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority by its consulting engineers.
     "The decision for the Fourth street route was made before they came here, and that is the route you are going to get," said Collins. "The recommendation of the consulting engineers is the recommendation of the commission" (authority).

Raps Consultants
     Collins referred to the recommendation presented to turnpike officials at a hearing here November 25 which was called to acquaint local officials with the progress of planned turnpike construction through the city. The recommendation, in addition to urging the authority to adopt the Fourth street proposal, blasted Collins's waterfront scheme, which it termed as having "no compensating advantage."
     Much of the city engineer's talk was devoted to registering a complaint against the attack made on his plan by the consultants.
     "In all my 35 years' experience as an engineer, I have never been subjected to such discourteous treatment," Collins asserted.

Explains Alignments
     Collins explained the courses the two proposed alignments of the road would follow in the city. His explanation of the course of the Fourth street proposal was not dissimilar to the recommendation of the consultants. He pointed out the plan would close Bayway, which would be moved north, and the street that would replace it would be built with a curve and a 4 percent grade, "a very difficult road on which to operate heavy trucking."
     From detailed Fourth street plans, Collins said he could find no provisions for S-100. (Under plans developed by the State Highway Department for Route 100, the road which the turnpike supplants, S-100, was to have served as a connecting link between Routes 25 and 100.) Abandonment of that spur kills the city's effort to have the state take over Division street as a "feeder" road to S-100, Collins pointed out.
     Lack of entrances to the road were scored by Collins as working to the city's disadvantage in the proposed construction. He said that lack, between the Central Railroad and the Newark City line, ruined any future development of the meadowlands.

Cites Housing Problem
     "But the real problem is the 200 families this road will displace. What will we do to house them?" Collins queried.
     In offering his waterfront plan, Collins admitted at the outset it was longer and would cost more. He termed the $29,000,000 additional cost, estimated by the consultants, as "ridiculous." He said that $5,000,000 would be a much more accurate figure.

Pictures City's Plight
     After a question and answer period during which the possible effects the routes might have on specific industries were discussed, Robert C. Crane summarized what he said was the city's position. He pointed to the proposed encroachments confronting the city from the turnpike and from the Port of New York Authority.
     "The time has come, as far as Elizabeth is concerned," Crane declared, "when it is a question whether we want to exist or become known as the crossroads of America."


Courtesy of the Newark Public Library.

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