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Thread: Route 33 - Mercer Co., NJ (lots of pics)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Route 33 - Mercer Co., NJ (lots of pics)

    A while back there was a GTC of some highway in Texas with the huge, telescoping commercial signs and someone guessed NJ. I said that when I got the chance I’d take some pictures of an actual highway in NJ. Well, I had to do it for work and thought I’d recycle the pics. It’s Route 33 in Mercer County. The highway runs from Trenton east to Ocean Grove. These pictures are in Hamilton and Washington Townships. Hamilton shares a border with Trenton and Washington is just to the east of that.

    To me Route 33 is the quintessential NJ highway because it runs the gamut from 1950’s to 21st Century all in a 5 mile span.

    Starting in Hamilton we have an old Main St. community before the road was widened to 4 lanes.
















    Moving along we have the definitive 90’s development




    across the street we have one from the late 70’s


    On the other corner we have one from 5 years ago complete with Town Center clock.


    A reminder of what used to be


    A candidate for Kunstler’s “eyesore of the month” – a cinderblock box tarted up with awnings.











    It’s fairly obvious from the signage that the town has been adopting stricter ordinances for signage as the years go on. It’s also obvious that some property owners are taking advantage of their status as existing, non-conforming.


    Here’s a beauty from the late 50’s/early 60’s


    and the neighborhood behind it . . .


    Things peter out for a bit with a few random developments from the late 80’s . . .
















    . . . and late 90’s




    Then we find ourselves, full circle, in Washington Town Center


    The first residential component, several thousand units, is finished.


    This is entirely TDR, entirely locally driven, and entirely sold-out.


    The commercial component is just getting under way. Route 33 will become the new Main St. while the new Route 33 will skirt the edge of town on a new Boulevard.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  2. #2
    Those were great and made me feel (at least the older sections did) like I was back home in western Somerset or southern Hunterdon counties. Thanks for sharing.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  3. #3
    Cyburbian drucee's avatar
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    As a former NJ resident, I have to say, I know NJ and that's NJ. It's a little taste of home. NJ highways always struck me as somewhat ugly, although a few trips to exurban parts of the South certainly made me long for the density and character of a Route 33 or a Route 507 (a cross-county road through western Bergen County, snaking through about twelve towns and taking about six names, none of which is actually "Route 507") Older NJ, as shown in the inner-ring Trenton suburbs of these pictures, is a healthy suburbia. Newer NJ, like one might find on the agonizing Route 1 in East Brunswick or Route 9 in Marlboro Township, is disgusting, often resembling the outer-ring suburbs of the rest of America, though with more independent pizzerias, bagel shops, and pharmaceutical companies.

    Route 33 may be a classic state highway that even reminds me of North Avenue (IL 72) in Illinois or Genesee Street (NY 5) in upstate New York, but such a design isn't really unique to New Jersey. I even noticed middle turning lanes, something which would be downright unheard of in northern Jersey. What's unique to New Jersey are the "mother roads" of the state, state highways, lined with commercial development, whose quirks are as unique as those of the frontage roads in Texas. Every county seems to have at least one: there are Routes 4 and 17 in Bergen, Routes 23 and 46 in Passaic, Route 22 in Union, Route 9 in Monmouth, Route 10 in Morris. These "mother roads" are often four-to-six-lane divided highways, moving at about 50-55 mph (although there may or not be traffic lights) with the two directions separated by--you guessed it--a Jersey barrier. The result is something that's not quite a freeway, not quite a surface street. The "jughandles" (or access ramps used to make turns from a highway onto a surface street that runs perpendicular to the highway) are probably the most recognized feature, and it wouldn't be Jersey without them. The result of these "jughandles" is that the state highway seems to be separate from the communities surrounding it, unlike in most other states where there is direct access from sprawl road to residential arterial.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Thanks. The back and forth between traditional communities, small-business sprawl, and big box developments reminds me of many state roads around here.

    Have New Yorkers who make fun of New Jersey ever been to Long Island?

    How come I'm in CVS-land and we don't have the more attractive storefront design? (the first one)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    I think I know that road. Does it run from shore towns like Neptune and Red Bank to Edison and New Brunswick?
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  6. #6

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    Interesting little trip. (I do like the older town the best-it actually reminds me of my town of residence, Vacaville, California, a bit).

    The landscape strips do make a difference, though they may only be a "bandaid" on the overall wound of autocentric development.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    I've been following the town center since before they broke ground. Its nice to see it filling out.
    When I was at LRK Inc., we were working on the commercial core of Washington Town Center. It continued to evolve for a long time after I left. One of the head guys in Sharbell Development, who is building it, started as an architect. I was wondering how it would sell, set among large-lot suburbia. A realtor I know just can't understand why people would buy there. But he's an idiot.

    And next time you're that close to my house, stop by for a beer! My neighborhood is a very photogenic, authentic TND!
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by drucee
    As a former NJ resident, I have to say, I know NJ and that's NJ. It's a little taste of home. NJ highways always struck me as somewhat ugly, although a few trips to exurban parts of the South certainly made me long for the density and character of a Route 33 or a Route 507 (a cross-county road through western Bergen County, snaking through about twelve towns and taking about six names, none of which is actually "Route 507") Older NJ, as shown in the inner-ring Trenton suburbs of these pictures, is a healthy suburbia. Newer NJ, like one might find on the agonizing Route 1 in East Brunswick or Route 9 in Marlboro Township, is disgusting, often resembling the outer-ring suburbs of the rest of America, though with more independent pizzerias, bagel shops, and pharmaceutical companies.
    Don't forget that 1 and 9 are US highways and both of them are unique in that they serve as truck bypasses. Trucks trying to avoid the traffic and tolls on the Turnpike and using 1 as an alternate and trucks having to bypass the bus and car only Parkway and using 9 as the alternate.

    What's unique to New Jersey are the "mother roads" of the state, state highways, lined with commercial development, whose quirks are as unique as those of the frontage roads in Texas. Every county seems to have at least one: there are Routes 4 and 17 in Bergen, Routes 23 and 46 in Passaic, Route 22 in Union, Route 9 in Monmouth, Route 10 in Morris. These "mother roads" are often four-to-six-lane divided highways, moving at about 50-55 mph (although there may or not be traffic lights) with the two directions separated by--you guessed it--a Jersey barrier. The result is something that's not quite a freeway, not quite a surface street. The "jughandles" (or access ramps used to make turns from a highway onto a surface street that runs perpendicular to the highway) are probably the most recognized feature, and it wouldn't be Jersey without them. The result of these "jughandles" is that the state highway seems to be separate from the communities surrounding it, unlike in most other states where there is direct access from sprawl road to residential arterial.
    The center turn lane pops up all over the place on 202 and 206 in north jersey. Wherever a highway isn't wide enough for full shoulder/right turn lanes DOT uses the center turn. You're right that it's rare and you definitely won't find it on a highway with more than one lane per direction but they're not unique to any one part of the state. 33 definitely isn't one of those heavy-duty highways as up until 10-15 years ago everything from Rt. 130 east to the Parkway was rural. It also has a pretty significant parallel county route that actually carries more traffic than the highway itself. There's just no commercial development on it.

    Rt. 33 does go Jersey barrier and jughandles when it hooks up with Rt. 130 and continues on it's own with barriers from Hightstown all the way out to Monmouth County where the jug handles remain but a grassy median replaces the barrier.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by the north omaha star
    I think I know that road. Does it run from shore towns like Neptune and Red Bank to Edison and New Brunswick?
    It sounds like you're talking about Route 18.

    Route 33 runs from Neptune through Wall, Howell, Freehold, Manalapan, East Windsor, Hightstown, etc, then joins US 130 and heads southwest for a few miles before splitting off at Washington Town Center and heading west again. It ends at the "World Takes" bridge over the Delaware.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Why are those new houses so far from the street? It would be comical if it weren't so saddening. Even the lawn is 'barricaded' from the house by bushes.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally posted by drucee
    As a former NJ resident, I have to say, I know NJ and that's NJ. It's a little taste of home. .....
    ....Route 22 in Union, ..... These "mother roads" are often four-to-six-lane divided highways, moving at about 50-55 mph (although there may or not be traffic lights) with the two directions separated by--you guessed it--a Jersey barrier. The result is something that's not quite a freeway, not quite a surface street. The "jughandles" (or access ramps used to make turns from a highway onto a surface street that runs perpendicular to the highway) are probably the most recognized feature, and it wouldn't be Jersey without them. The result of these "jughandles" is that the state highway seems to be separate from the communities surrounding it, unlike in most other states where there is direct access from sprawl road to residential arterial.
    I grew up driving Route 22,
    It was even part of drivers ed. class to drive east to Newark Airport and back.
    An interesting section is the center island strip of commercial businesses through Union. You want to talk about traffic and traffic flows, that stretch is it.
    Gedunker you have experienced it, how to begin to describe it ?
    Last edited by JNA; 20 Jan 2005 at 11:40 AM.
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  12. #12
    Those are great, I spent plenty of summers and a winter or two in Whitehorse. I was born in Trenton, NJ. Now let's all go get some scrapple and peanut butter tasty cakes for breakfast, meet me at Acme market.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    Thanks. The back and forth between traditional communities, small-business sprawl, and big box developments reminds me of many state roads around here.

    Have New Yorkers who make fun of New Jersey ever been to Long Island?

    How come I'm in CVS-land and we don't have the more attractive storefront design? (the first one)
    As a New Yorker from Long Island, I could say those pictures look like much of western Suffolk County and all of Nassau, save those incredibly low gasoline prices! New Jersey always lucked out in that respect.

    From my experience of living here 20 years and being raised by a family who was as anti NJ as any ordinary Long Islander, I'd guess that about 90% of New Yorkers from NYC and Long Island, as well as the northern suburbs, share the same animosity toward those from NJ. As for the complaints of NJ being ugly, that is because everyone's impression of their state is from driving on the turnpike and noticing that their license plates are some toxic yellow color, proudly saying "Garden State" underneath it.

    The part of Long Island I'm from is on the eastern tip, aka the Hamptons, where way too many NJ people and those from NYC and its incredibly wealthy and snobbish suburbs proudly claim their huge, pesticide ridden second homes. Out here, this creates an elevated anger level toward the "city-iots" from their clogging the roads with their beamers and benz's, no respect for the local environment and culture, and no regard for the fact many locals have flocked to other areas of the island in search of cheaper homes. Maybe this is the case in many other second home communities in the northeast?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by JNA
    I grew up driving Route 22,
    It was even part of drivers ed. class to drive east to Newark Airport and back.
    An interesting section is the center island strip of commercial businesses through Union. You want to talk about traffic and traffic flows, that stretch is it.
    Gedunker you have experienced it, how to begin to describe it ?
    Wow! Route 22 -- the double-deuce -- was so scary, I'd put it out of my mind!

    Okay, I'll start, but other Jeresyans feel free to join in/edit/correct/update.

    Imagine The Blue Star Highway like this: four-lane Jersey-divided highway, posted speed of 50, actual travel speed more like 60+ (unless a wreck present, then about 2, with the attendant rubber-neckers). In many places, one giant curb cut with a menagerie of pre- and post-war development. The lanes diverge and the land between the lanes is developed with diners, gas stations, a furniture store designed to look like a ship (The Flagship!!). Here there are no curb cuts, just a small mountable obstacle the full length of the development. My favorites are the occasional cross-over, so that merging traffic enters IN THE FAST LANE! While folks are DECELERATING in the fast lane to catch the next cross-over! Distracting signage everywhere.

    Mind you: this is no staright, flat Interstate. Route 22 twists, turns, rises and falls through Union County.

    Yikes, I'm shaking just thinking about being 17 in a '72 Beetle dealing with that!

    BTW: Do you pronouce it rOUt 22 or rOOt 22?
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

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