New Jersey Roads - NJ 21 - Freeway

Main St. SB (former 21) at Little St., Belleville.


It's always suspect when you see a BGS with a blank exit tab, the remnants of the old exit number, and "USE EXIT 5" scrawled in some blank space toward the bottom. Exit 4 was a left exit at the north end of the first of two viaducts (where, in both, NB 21 runs underneath SB 21 next to the Passaic River in order to use less land), cutting underneath the SB side before it had a chance to come back to ground level. Probably due to the fact that it was a fairly tight turn and somewhat blind to NB traffic, it has been grassed in, but rather than erect new signage, the patch-up was deemed adequate. SB, as you will see further down, the signage is normal and the exit is open.
UPDATE: One of these signs was knocked down a couple of years ago, and replaced with a new sign with the same text. This, despite the fact the exit hasn't been open for years. Amazing what bureaucracy can do, isn't it?

Now underneath the northern of the two NJ 21 two-level viaducts, with the southbound lanes on top (as they are for the southern one as well).

I don't know where the greenout on the Exit 8 advance sign came from, but it was only a temporary condition.

When Exit 6 is closed, the next exit is 8. Some (more) assembly required.

When Exit 6 is open, you can enter the freeway from Main St. NB. This particular assembly can go since there is no Alt.

NJ 3 is important enough to get an extra advance NB BGS; the last two photos are left and right over the ramp split. The interchange is fairly weird due to its proximity to both the Passaic River and railroad tracks. WB 3's ramp is a loop that then spawns a flyover into NB 21, EB 3's ramp to SB 21 follows the RR tracks and the ramp to NB 21 actually loops backward in a trumpet, joining the WB-NB ramp before it flies over. The other half of that trumpet is the combination of NB and SB 21 to WB 3 - thus the NB side does a full 180 to face SB and join the SB ramp, stretched out around the WB-SB loop ramp. They then cross back under 3 and turn 90 degrees around the EB-NB ramp to merge with EB 3. The SB-NB ramps to NJ 3 WB work the same way. Basically, the SB ramp splits in the NW quadrant of the interchange. The NB ramp has come up the side of the river northward, and then swings over 21 and drops between the two SB offramps. The right one goes to 3 WB, the left one becomes the outside of the trumpet.

The new NJ 3 EB C-D road is going in over NJ 21 and, behind this photo, the Passaic River.

The last assembly is on the ramp. 10B is southbound's 10, and there is no direct River Road access from that other direction.

Since NJ 21 wasn't extended north of Monroe Street (which is now Exit 12) until very recently, the signage for the rest of it is much newer.

A cool feature of the new freeway that was constructed north of Exit 11, finally completing NJ 21 after 30-40 years of planning, is that the concrete has been tinted to a slightly pinkish color. It's pretty nice as a change, especially with matching sound barrier - beats drab whitish-yellow any day. The colorful tile on a bridge parapet is courtesy HNTB Corporation - as is the photo.

NJ 21 merges into one lane, and left-merges into US 46 EB. That's it. NJ 20 pops out a short distance to the north, making an interesting case to renumber it as part of NJ 21 and go from having three disconnected pieces of 20 to none (click the link in that sentence to find out where the other ones were).

The first and second BGS's on NJ 21 coming off of US 46. The first one is actually before 46 East even passes over the newly formed NJ 21. Until 21 was complete, this was an interchange that led from 46 to Lexington Avenue, so that movement's been preserved from WB and to EB US 46, but the only way the western half of 46 gets to use the interchange is by pulling a U-ey... see the US 46 page for more details.

Here there is a lopsided number of exits between the northbound and southbound sides, but that's because until recently, NB was about to end, so would have more offramps, while the SB freeway had just begun, and thus would have more onramps and fewer offramps. Oh, and NJDOT should learn how to trim trees.

Read the NB side for what's going on here around Exit 9; the last photo is the offramp split.

Here's NJ 3 construction as seen from NJ 21 SB in May 2013: New WB C-D road bridge going in over NJ 21 interchange ramps, new C-D road overpasses already in place, old piers from the original Passaic River drawbridge are yet to be removed.

The southbound half of another set of two half-interchanges (Exit 6 northbound).

Southbound over the northern of two bilevel viaducts. The RR overpass hikes up its beams to allow SB 21 traffic underneath.

Unlike on the northbound side, where it was a tight left exit underneath the end of the southern viaduct, Exit 4 is intact SB.

Views of NJ 3 widening construction taken from the NJ 21 (combined) exit ramp to NJ 3 EB. The first photo looks north at where I just undercrossed NJ 3. The next photo looks west at the line of cars taking this ramp and the new NJ 3 bridges over it and the railroad just to the west. The last two photos look east at the new Passaic River C-D road bridge and the future NJ 21 ramp connection to it.

Continue south on McCarter Highway
Back to NJ 21 main page

Exit 6 to NJ 7
Exit 8 to Park Ave.
Exit 9 to NJ 3
Exit 10B or 11A to CR 624
Exit 11 to Main Ave.
Northward onto US 46
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