Driving it

printBeep Beep, Honk Honk

What's Under That Smooth Ride?
Asphalt Paves the Way

[see large picture]

While most drivers tooling along on the Turnpike probably never think about what's underneath their wheels, there's actually much more than meets the eye. Foremost is asphalt, which almost completely covers the Turnpike roadway. The Authority could have chosen concrete, but the bid for asphalt was far less.

By the time the Turnpike opened, asphalt covered more than 4 million square yards of surface area, was one foot deep over two feet of improved soil, and had led to the largest concentration of paving equipment ever on a single project. It also lasted. As retired Turnpike Authority construction engineer R. Bruce Noel put it (Noel started on the highway in 1956), "we probably had the most outstanding pavement. The Turnpike's pavement in its original construction . . . never had to be torn up and replaced. And it will be there forever."

"Cross section of roadway foundation and pavement," from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority annual report, 1951
Collections of The New Jersey Historical Society, gift of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority