LHT Historic Site – Arctic Parkway
Mercer County planners proposed Arctic Parkway during the 1920s, laying out a route across farmland to the northwest of U.S. 206, bypassing Lawrenceville. Why they chose the name Arctic Parkway remains a mystery, but it may have commemorated the ﬁrst sightings of the North Pole by air in 1926.
Arctic Parkway may have been one of New Jersey’s ﬁrst proposed bypasses to stumble out of the block in the automobile age, but it would not be the last. Lawrence, Hopewell and other neighboring municipalities, lying slap in the middle of the Philadelphia-New York corridor, were in the crosshairs of transportation planners from an early date. Over the decades, alternative alignments for two U.S. 206 bypasses, I-95 and I-295 have all been charted across the terrain, with I-295 the only one reaching completion during the 1970s.
Transportation planning came of age in the 1930s and one of its main tools was traffic counting.
From an early date, trafﬁc counts showed volumes exceeding the capacity of the existing roads and congestion worsening. U.S. 206, which followed the colonial King’s Highway, and U.S. 1, which followed the Trenton and New Brunswick Turnpike of 1805, would never be up to the job. Slowdowns caused by local intersections and cars pulling into and out of driveways and parking lots were unavoidable on these old roads. Adding extra lanes upset adjacent property owners and only partially improved trafﬁc ﬂow.
Only a short segment of Arctic Parkway was actually built and that was in Ewing. Since 1941, this has remained with us with the help of a celebrated ice cream factory.
Lack of funding, combined with the onset of the Great Depression, was probably the main reason for Mercer County dropping the rest of the project. Bergen Street came much later, in the 1980s, a result of a developer following a gently curving street alignment surveyed decades prior for Arctic Parkway.
As early as 1947, the State of New Jersey projected the need for a limited-access interstate highway passing somewhere north or south of Lawrenceville, ultimately trending around Princeton and then on to Somerville or New Brunswick.
Continuing the Story
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This project: Funded by the FHWA Recreational Trails Program, through the NJDEP.
This sign: Content development by Hunter Research, Inc. Graphic design by Douglas Scott.
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