The Garden State Parkway begins in Lower Township at a traffic light with Route 109. For the first three and a half miles, the Parkway crosses over streams. At 3.48 miles, the Parkway crosses over Taylor Creek and enters Middle Township. Exit 4 is for Route 47 to Wildwood. At 6.54 miles, Parkway Exit 6, which is for Route 147 and Wildwood, leaves to the right. The first traffic light exit, Exit 9, is for Shellbay Avenue. The second traffic light intersection, Exit 10, is for County Route 657. Exit 12 is for U.S. Route 9. Exit 13 is for Avalon Boulevard. At 14.85 miles, the Parkway enters Dennis Township after crossing Uncle Aaron's Creek. At 17.5 miles, Exit 17 leaves to the right for County Route 625. At milepost 19.38, the Parkway enters its first toll, the Cape May Toll Plaza. A little more than 20 miles in, Exit 20 leaves for Route 50. In Upper Township, Exit 25 leaves for County Route 623. At 27.77 miles, the Parkway enters Atlantic County.
Just before Exit 29 for U.S. Route 9, the Parkway enters the Great Egg Toll Plaza. Exit 30 leaves to the right at milepost 30 for Laurel Road in Somers Point which leads to Ocean City via a circle and, past that, the Route 52 causeway. Now in Egg Harbor Township, Exit 36 opens onto local roads. Exit 37 is the Parkway's interchange with the Black Horse Pike (US 40/322). Exit 38 is for the Atlantic City Expressway. Now entering Galloway Township, U.S. Route 30 interchanges with the Parkway at Exit 40. Exit 44 is next, leading to County Route 561 Alternate. Just after Exit 48 for U.S. Route 9 near the Mullica River and Bass River State Forest, the Parkway enters Burlington County. Exit 50 is for Route 9 as well, while Exit 52 is for Burlington County Route 654.
Now in Ocean County, Exit 58 is for County Route 539, Exit 63 is for Route 72, and Exit 67 is for County Route 554. Exit 69 leaves to the right in both directions at milepost 70.45. Exit 74 leaves to the right, which heads to Forked River. Exits 80 and 81 are for county roads and U.S. Route 9. Route 9 then merges in for a few miles.
Between Exits 80 and 83, the Parkway has a concurrency with U.S. Route 9 just south of the Toms River Toll Plaza. It was from here that the Driscoll Expressway was to start (south of Exit 83) and run to the New Jersey Turnpike.
Route 37 interchanges with the Parkway at exits 82 and 82A in Toms River. At Exit 83, U.S. Route 9 leaves the Parkway and heads north. Exit 88 comes at 89.4 miles for Route 70. In Brick Township, Exit 90 (northbound) and Exit 91 (southbound), leave for County Route 549. Exit 98 leads to Interstate 195, Route 34 and Route 138. Exit 100 leaves southbound for Route 33. Route 66 also exits northbound. Exit 102, a southbound only exit leaves for Neptune Township.
At this point, the road is in Monmouth County. Exit 105 for Route 18 and Route 36 leading to Long Branch, is the point at which all trucks are forced to leave the Parkway. The Parkway has become local and express lanes are now provided. The express lanes have no direct access to any exits, except for Exit 105 in Tinton Falls, and Exit 117 in Hazlet. Exits 109 and 114 are for Holmdel and Middletown (which both exits are located in Middletown). The next exit, Exit 116, is for the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. Exit 117 is for Routes 35 and 36. Exit 117A, the exit after, is for Lloyd Road in Aberdeen. Exit 120 is for Laurence Harbor Road and Cheesequake State Park.
At this point, you have entered Middlesex County, and are currently in Old Bridge Township. Southbound Exits 123 and 124 leave to the right, but only on the Local lanes. The Express and Local lanes merge and become one highway again shortly after. Northbound Exit 125 makes a sudden exit for Route 35. Afterwards, you cross the Driscoll Bridge over the Raritan River. After the bridge, Exit 127 leaves for Routes 9, 440 and 287. At milepost 129.5, the New Jersey Turnpike leaves to the right at Exit 129. Southbound Exits 127 and 129 are merged into one exit, which is marked as Exit 129. A southbound only exit, Exit 130 is for U.S. Route 1. The next three exits are marked 131, 131A and 131B. The lettered ones are for Metropark, while Exit 131 is for Route 27.
Exit 135 is for Clark Township in Union County. Exits 136 and 137 are for Cranford Township and Route 28. Exit 138 is in Kenilworth for County Route 509. Exits 139A and 139B are northbound exits only for a local road and U.S. Route 22. Exit 140 and 140A are for U.S. Route 22 and NJ Route 82. Exit 141 is for Vaux Hall Road and Exit 142 is for Interstate 78. The 143s are for Lyons Avenue, Exit 144 is for Irvington and 145 is for Interstate 280. Exit 147 is for Renshaw Avenue in East Orange, and Exit 148 is for Bloomfield Avenue in Bloomfield. Exits 149, 150, and 151 are for Essex County roads. Exits 153A and 153B are for Route 3 and U.S. Route 46 in Passaic County.
Exit 160 comes next, as the Parkway enters Paramus and interchanges with West Passaic Street, which heads to New Jersey Route 208. Not far afterwards, at Exit 161 is New Jersey Route 4. Garden State Plaza is visible from the Parkway and is off Exit 161. Exit 163 is for New Jersey Route 17 in Paramus, which heads north to Rockland County. The Parkway goes between Paramus Park Mall and Bergen Regional Medical Center as it heads north. Just after, Exit 165 intersects for Bergen County Route 80 (Oradell Avenue and East Ridgewood Avenue) in Paramus. The Parkway turns to the northwest and heads into the Pascack Valley Toll Plaza going northbound. There is a plaza southbound along the Parkway as well as Exit 166 for Bergen County Route 110 (Linwood Avenue).
As the Parkway inches closer and closer to New York, Exit 168 comes along, interchanging for County Route 502, which heads towards Ho-Ho-Kus and Alpine. 3 miles later, at Exit 171, the Parkway interchanges with Glen Road, which terminates soon after at Chestnut Ridge Road. The Parkway's Montvale Service Area comes at milepost 171 after Exit 172 which is for Bergen County Route 94. There is also access to CR 94 from the Montvale Service Area's service road. At 172.4 miles, the Parkway crosses the state line and enters New York.
The Parkway was originally designated as the Route 4 Parkway when it was started in 1947 in Union County, but, due to lack of funds, only 11 miles were completed by 1950. The solution was for the state to establish the New Jersey Highway Authority in 1952 to oversee construction and operation as a self-liquidating toll road. Much of the original section, between exits 129 and 140, was long administered by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and has always been untolled. The segment can be distinguished by the stone facing on the overpasses.
The Parkway was constructed between 1946 and 1957 to connect suburban northern New Jersey with resort areas along the Atlantic coast and to alleviate traffic on traditional north-south routes running through each town center, such as U.S. 1, U.S. 9, and Route 35. Unofficially, it has two sections: the "metropolitan section" north of the Raritan River and the "shore section" between the Raritan River and Cape May. Only 18 miles had been constructed by 1950, but taking a cue from the successful New York State Thruway, on April 14, 1952, the New Jersey Legislature created the New Jersey Highway Authority, empowered to construct, operate, and maintain a self-sufficient toll parkway from Paramus to Cape May.
The landscape architect and engineer in charge of the newly-named "Garden State Parkway" was Gilmore David Clarke, of the architectural firm of Parsons, Brinkerhof, Hall and MacDonald, who had worked with Robert Moses on the parkway systems around New York City. Clarke's design prototypes for the Parkway combined the example of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a model of efficiency with parallels in the German Autobahn routes of the 1930s, with the Merritt Parkway model that stressed a planted "green belt" for beauty. Both design models featured wide planted medians to prevent head-on collisions and mask the glare of on-coming headlights. The Parkway, especially the "shore section", was designed to have a natural feel. Many trees were planted, and the only signs were those for exits--there were no distracting billboards. Most of the signs were constructed from wood, or a dark-brown metal, instead of the chrome bars used in the "metropolitan section". The guardrails were also made from wood and dark metal. Most early overpasses were stone, but then changed to concrete, with green rails and retro etchings, popular around the 50s and 60s. These are now in decay and being replaced by sleek, new bridges.
The Parkway was designed to gently curve throughout its length, so that drivers would remain alert and not fall asleep at the wheel.
Most of the metropolitan section is like any expressway built in the 1950s through heavily populated areas. The shore section parallels U.S. Route 9 and runs through unspoiled wilderness in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. In Cape May County, the Parkway has three traffic lights (at exits 8, 10, and 11 respectively), but these will be eliminated in the future, with construction of an overpass at Exit 10 in Cape May Court House and Stone Harbor scheduled to begin in 2009.
The Parkway had an old alignment before the Great Egg Harbor Bridge was completed. It was detoured onto U.S. Route 9 and over the Beesley's Point Bridge. This old alignment still exists today and is slowly being consumed by nature.
The Garden State Parkway was off limits to motorcycles, until Malcolm Forbes pushed successfully for legislation to allow them.
Literature from the time of the Parkway's construction indicates that the Parkway would become toll-free once bonds used for its construction were paid off. However, additional construction projects, plus the expectation that the Parkway will pay for its own maintenance and policing (and the massive E-ZPass project) make it unlikely it will become toll-free in the foreseeable future.
The speed limit on the Parkway is 65 mph (102 km/h) with the following exceptions: 55 mph (90 km/h) between Mileposts 123.5 and 163.3, 55 mph between Mileposts 80.0 and 100.0, 50 mph (80 km/h) between Mileposts 8.0 and 11.5, and 45 mph (70 km/h) between Mileposts 27 and Milepost 29, approaching and traversing the Great Egg Harbor Bridge, and between Milepost 126.7 and 127.7, approaching and traversing the Driscoll Bridge.
Commercial trucks with a registered weight of over 7,000 pounds (3.18 tons) are not allowed to use the northern parts of the Parkway. All trucks must exit at Exit 105, just past the Asbury Park Toll Plaza. From Tinton Falls to the southern end of the Parkway at Cape May, trucks are allowed, but must pay additional tolls. Buses are allowed for the entire length of the Parkway. The "truck" ban includes all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (the vehicle's maximum fully-loaded weight including fuel, passengers and cargo), which encompasses dozens of large passenger vehicles, such as the Chevy Suburban, which can weigh in at 8,500 pounds, though in practice police do not ticket such vehicles.
Whereas the New Jersey Turnpike uses a system of long-distance tickets, obtained once by a motorist upon entering and surrendered upon exiting at toll gates (a "closed" system), the Garden State Parkway uses no tickets but collects tolls at toll plazas at semi-regular intervals along its length and at certain exits (an "open" system). The standard car toll is 35 cents on the main road at two-way toll plazas and 70 cents at one-way toll plazas. Some individual exits require a toll of either 25 cents, 35 cents, or 70 cents. Both the Turnpike and the Parkway now allow for payment with the E-ZPass system, which, on the Parkway, replaced the tokens which were available. Tokens originally cost $10 for a roll of 40 tokens (the toll, when tokens were introduced, was 25 cents), but when the toll was increased to 35 cents, rolls were 30 tokens for $10. Tokens are still valid at any toll plaza, but they can no longer be purchased. The NJHA has stated that they will continue to accept the tokens indefinitely, as the coin baskets will recognize them and there are no plans to modify them to reject tokens. As time passes and the supply of tokens in public hands diminishes (tokens taken in are melted down by a contractor) they will become less common. Tokens were originally brass, but were changed to a bimetallic composition, with an outer silver-colored ring and a brass core. There are also larger bus tokens that exist in each composition, primarily for the use of Atlantic City bound buses. These were sold in rolls of 20 for $20.
To reduce congestion, some toll plazas on the roadway were converted into one-way plazas between 2004 and 2007, dubbed "one-way tolling". Under this program, a 70-cent toll (or two tokens) is collected in one direction, and the other direction is toll-free. As of March 10, 2007, the Cape May (in Upper Township), Great Egg (in Somers Point), New Gretna (in Bass River Township), Barnegat (in Barnegat Township), Asbury Park (in Tinton Falls), Raritan (in Sayreville), Union (in Hillside Township), Essex (in Bloomfield Township), and Bergen (in Saddle Brook Township) Plazas had been converted to one-way toll plazas.
Originally in November 2001, E-Z Pass customers were supposed to be charged the approximate token rate, that is 33 cents (peak travel) or 30 cents (off-peak travel) instead of 35 cents. Due to tremendous cost overruns in implementing the E-Z Pass system on New Jersey's toll highways, the discount was not implemented. In addition, NJHA E-Z Pass customers were charged a $1 per month account fee, causing many customers to turn in their NJHA E-Z Pass transponder in favor of a transponder from an out-of-state authority which did not charge a monthly fee.
Most toll plazas have dedicated lanes of three varieties: E-ZPass only (at some in addition to Express E-ZPass), Exact Change (coins or tokens are deposited in a basket which mechanically counts the deposit), or manned lanes at which change is available. The manned lanes will also accept E-ZPass, the exact change lanes will not. Tolls at entrances or exits may not have all three varieties, depending upon the number of lanes available. The location of similarly-marked lanes is not identical at each plaza. To assist drivers in seeking the proper lanes, the lanes are numbered both on the booth and on the pavement leading up to them. Some lanes leading up to plazas are dedicated for E-ZPass holders only.
Signs on many of the toll baskets warn against throwing paper currency into them, which jams them.
On January 8, 2008, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine proposed increases of fifty percent in tolls on the Parkway and Turnpike effective in 2010, to be followed by similar fifty percent increases every four years through 2022. Each times tolls increased, there would be an additional increase for inflation since the last toll increase (for the first, since 2006). This increase in tolls, which would take place on all three of New Jersey's toll roads, would, according to Corzine, help pay the state's debt. The roads would be maintained by a nonprofit "public benefit corporation" which would pay back bonds to the state. Without considering inflation, the proposal would increase the standard 35 cent toll on the Garden State Parkway to approximately $1.80 by 2022, with tolls for the entire length of the northbound Garden State Parkway rising from $4.55 to $30.10 in 2022. It was considered possible that commuters will receive discounts from the higher toll rates. However, the proposal was not enacted due to fierce opposition from the state of New Jersey. On September 5, 2008, a proposal to increase Parkway tolls substantially was reported.
The Cape May, Toms River, Asbury Park, Raritan, and Pascack Valley plazas also feature Express E-ZPass lanes, a form of open road tolling that allow motorists with E-ZPass to maintain highway speeds of up to 65 mph (100 km/h) through the toll plaza. Officials have already converted the Barnegat (in Barnegat Township) Toll Plaza to one-way tolling and will build it with Express E-ZPass for southbound drivers, which began on March 10, 2007.
|Cape May||Lower Twp||0.00||0||Begin/end Parkway; unsigned exit|
|Middle Twp||3.9||4||Toll plaza for northbound off, southbound on directions only; other directions are toll-free|
|6.54||6||Southbound exit; northbound entrance only|
|11.04||11||– Cape May County Park & Zoo||at-grade intersection|
|13.60||13||Avalon Blvd – Avalon, Swainton|
|Dennis Twp||17.50||17||Sea Isle Blvd – Sea Isle City||Southbound exit; northbound entrance only|
|Upper Twp||19.38||Cape May Toll Plaza (Northbound only) with 2 lanes of Express E-ZPass|
|20.25||20||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|25.34||25||Begin/end US 9 detour concurrency with Parkway|
(temporary measure from closure of Beesley's Point Bridge)
|Atlantic||City of Somers Point||28.78||Great Egg Toll Plaza (Southbound only)|
|28.90||29||Southbound entrance/northbound exit|
Begin/end US 9 detour concurrency with Parkway
(temporary measure from closure of Beesley's Point Bridge)
|30.00||30||Toll plaza at exit; southbound exit, northbound entrance|
|Egg Harbor Twp||35.82||36|
|36.59||37||Northbound entrance, southbound exit|
|Galloway Twp||40.04||40||Northbound entrance, southbound exit|
|41.5||42||, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Division||Unsigned entrance and exit through Atlantic City Service Area|
|43.98||44||– Smithville, Pomona, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey||Northbound entrance, southbound exit|
|City of Port Republic||48.29||48||Northbound entrance, southbound exit; begin/end US 9 concurrency with Parkway|
|Burlington||Bass River Twp||50.67||50||Northbound exit, southbound entrance; begin/end US 9 concurrency with Parkway|
|52.70||52||East Greenbush Road – New Gretna||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|53.54||New Gretna Toll Plaza (Northbound only) - Express E-Z Pass coming soon|
|Ocean||Little Egg Harbor Twp||58.69||58|
|Barnegat Twp||67.81||67||Northbound entrance, southbound exit|
|68.61||Barnegat Toll Plaza (Southbound only) - Express E-Z Pass coming soon|
|Ocean Twp||70.45||69||Toll plaza at exit|
|Lacey Twp||75.34||74||Toll plaza at exit|
|Berkeley Township||77.40||77||Toll plaza at exit|
|Borough of South Toms River||80.85||80||Begin/end US 9 concurrency with Parkway|
|Toms River Twp||81.85||81|
|82.35||82||Full cloverleaf interchange|
|84.10||83||Begin/end US 9 concurrency with Parkway|
|84.72||Toms River Toll Plaza (Both Directions) with 2 lanes of Express E-ZPass|
|Lakewood Twp||89.36||88||Northbound entrance, southbound exit; toll plaza at exit|
|90.18||89||Northbound entrance, southbound exit; toll plaza at exit|
|Brick Twp||91.1||90||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|92.62||91||Northbound entrance, southbound exit; toll plaza at exit|
|Monmouth||Wall Twp||98.23||98||Cloverleaf interchange with additional ramps; to access Parkway southbound from I-195, motorists must use NJ 34 southbound; to access I-195 from Parkway southbound, motorists must use NJ 34 northbound; toll plaza at exit|
|Borough of Tinton Falls||101.24 & 101.60||100||Cloverleaf interchange with additional ramps; no direct access from NJ 33 westbound to Parkway southbound or from Parkway southbound to NJ 66 eastbound|
|103.15||102||Asbury Ave – Neptune Township||Northbound entrance, southbound exit|
|103.96||Asbury Park Toll Plaza (Northbound only) with 3 lanes of Express E-ZPass|
|104.2||Parkway splits into express and local roadways/merges|
|106.12, 106.18, 106.39||105||Toll plaza for northbound entrance only; Express Lane accessible; All Trucks Must Exit here northbound, trucks may enter here southbound|
|Middletown Twp||110.14||109||Northbound entrance, southbound exit; toll plaza at exit|
|Middletown Twp / Holmdel Twp||113.88||114||Northbound entrance, southbound exit; toll plaza at exit|
|Holmdel Twp||115.85||116||PNC Bank Arts Center|
|~117||Crossover ramps between express and local lanes|
|Hazlet Twp||118.50||117||Toll plaza at exit (no toll for traffic from Parkway northbound); Express Lane accessible|
|Hazlet Twp / Aberdeen Twp||118.79||117A||Soutbound exit and entrance; toll plaza at exit|
|Middlesex||Old Bridge Twp||121.13||120||, Cheesequake State Park|
|Boro of Sayreville||124.64||123||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|124.99||124||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|125.28||North end of local/express split|
|125.68||Raritan Toll Plaza (Southbound only) with 5 lanes of Express E-ZPass|
|126.36||125||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|Woodbridge Twp||128.0||127||– Staten Island||Signed as exit 129 southbound; southbound exit to NJ 440 north is via New Brunswick Avenue|
|129||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|129||New Brunswick Avenue – Fords, Perth Amboy||Signed as exit 127 northbound|
|129||Signed as exit 127 northbound|
|129||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|130.63||130||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|131.83||131B||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|Union||Clark Twp||136.22||135||Clark-Westfield Ave - Clark, Westfield|
|Boro of Kenilworth||140.34||138|
|Union Twp||141.10||139A||Chestnut Street||Northbound exit and entrance|
|139B||, Union||Signed as exit 140 southbound|
|141.70||140A||Signed as exit 140 northbound|
|142.10||141||– Union||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|Hillside Twp||142.66||Union Toll Plaza (Northbound only)|
|143.00||142A||North Union Ave - Hillside, Maplewood||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|Essex||Irvington Twp||144.0||143||Springfield Avenue, Lyons Avenue – Hillside, Maplewood|
|City of Newark||145.98||144A||14th Avenue||Toll plaza at exit (in Irvington)|
|City of East Orange||146.93, 146.99 & 147.15||145||Toll plaza at northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|148.44||147||Renshaw Avenue||Southbound exit, northbound entrance|
|Bloomfield Twp||149.2||148||Bloomfield Avenue||Toll plaza at northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|149.17||149||Belleville Avenue - Bloomfield, Belleville||Northbound entrance, southbound exit|
|150.66||Essex Toll Plaza (Southbound only)|
|151.1||150||Southbound entrance, northbound exit|
|152.45||151||Watchung Avenue – Nutley, Montclair||Toll plaza at southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|Passaic||City of Clifton||154.06, 154.18, 154.45||153||– New York City, Passaic, Little Falls||Toll plaza at southbound exit to 3-EB and northbound entrance from 3-WB - No connections from Parkway South to 3-WB or 3-EB to Parkway North (use Route 46/Exit 154 instead).|
|155.91||154||Toll plaza at exit southbound|
|~156.4||155P||Northbound exit, southbound entrance; use this exit for I-80 westbound|
|156.68||155||Hazel Street||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|158.19||156||River Drive||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|Bergen||Borough of Elmwood Park||158.87||157|
|Saddle Brook Twp||160, 160.23, 160.35||159||, George Washington Bridge||Toll plaza at northbound exit and southbound entrance; no direct access from Parkway northbound to I-80 westbound|
|160.46||Bergen Toll Plaza (Northbound only)|
|Borough of Paramus||161.53||160|
|161.88||161||, George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|163.06, 163.15 & 163.29||163||- George Washington Bridge, Meadowlands Sports Complex, Mahwah||Northbound to northbound, southbound to southbound movements only|
|164.94||165||East Ridgewood Avenue – Ridgewood, Oradell||Toll plaza at northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|165.93||166||Linwood Avenue, Highland Avenue, Pascack Rd – Washington Twp, Westwood||Northbound entrance, southbound exit|
|Washington Township||166.25||Pascack Valley Toll Plaza (Both Directions) with 2 lanes of Express E-Z Pass|
|167.46||168||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|Borough of Woodcliff Lake||170.15||171||Glen Road – Saddle River||Northbound exit, southbound entrance|
|Borough of Montvale||171.52||172||Northbound exit, southbound entrance. Missing movements can be completed via a service road in the Montvale service area.|
|New Jersey/New York State Line (end of Parkway, start of Parkway Extension)|
|Rockland||Village of Chestnut Ridge||172.71|
|Southbound exit, northbound entrance|
|Begin/end Parkway Extension|
|Exit off ramp from Parkway Extension northbound to Thruway south/eastbound; no entrance|
All service areas are located in the center median, unless otherwise noted.