In 2019 there were over 266 million vehicles that traveled the New Jersey Turnpike. New statistics show that since the pandemic there are 38 million less cars that have used the Turnpike, over 48 million less have used the Garden State Parkway.

With recent increases in COVID numbers many of us are curtailing our travel and limiting the number of family and friends at our tables. I also read and heard on the news that many of us will be driving instead of flying to our Thanksgiving destinations.

It’s ironic that it was 69 years ago this month when the New Jersey Turnpike opened making life so much easier for Thanksgiving travelers. 148 miles with no stop lights, a toll or two or three but no stop lights. It was Nov. 5, 1951 when cars could hit the highway and head all the way down to Salem County.

I grew up in the Bronx and we used to spend a lot of time at the Jersey Shore. Our relatives lived down there and we spent summers and holidays chugging down the Turnpike, and then the Garden State Parkway which opened in October of 1956.

I can remember driving in my grandfather’s Oldsmobile down there with him smiling saying “how we’re going to make great time.” I’ve known nothing but the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway in my lifetime as they were both open before I was born but for my grandfather coming down to the shore, on the two lane Rt. 9, was absolutely a brutal trek and it would take three and a half hours. My mom would say that they would have to leave at some god forsaken time to get there at a “decent hour.”

Now when I go to the Bronx from my Jersey Shore home I can get there in an hour and ten minutes door to door, sometimes even quicker.

While both roadways have their issues, I’m still glad that we have them. Makes getting to where I want to go just a little quicker. Stay safe this Thanksgiving.

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