Department of Transportation

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Transportation History

During the early colonial era, New Jersey was two separate provinces, divided into West Jersey and East Jersey. Several public road acts were passed by the East Jersey and West Jersey Assemblies to build public roads and fund them with county taxes. The first Public Roads Act was passed in 1673.

East Jersey Assembly
Public Roads Act of 1676 Provided a road from Middletown to Piscataway
Public Roads Act of 1682 Provided for the layout of highways, bridges, landings and ferries

West Jersey Assembly
Public Roads Act of 1681 Provided a road from Burlington to Salem
Public Roads Act of 1684 Provided roads between Delaware River towns

In 1891, the New Jersey Legislature passed the State Road Aid Law establishing a $75,000 fund to help the counties in the construction of highways making New Jersey the first state in the nation to make a move toward better funded transportation. This law also designated the president of the State Board of Agriculture to be the administrator of roads. Under the Public Roads Act of 1894, the position of Commissioner of Public Roads was created, separate from the Secretary of Agriculture. Edward Burrough, former president of the State Board of Agriculture became the first Commissioner.

Recognizing the need for a better road system, the New Jersey Legislature took a significant step toward that goal with the creation of the State Highway Commission in 1909.

State Board of Agriculture President and Roads Administrator
1892 - 1894 Edward Burrough
Public Roads Commissioners
1894 - 1895 Edward Burrough
1895 - 1905 Henry I. Budd
1905 - 1911 Frederick Gilkyson
1911 - 1917 Colonel Edwin A. Stevens

Eight years later the legislature created the State Highway Department, governed by the State Highway Commission's eight members, two of whom were required to be qualified and competent engineers.

State Highway Commission Chairmen
1917 - 1920 John W. Herbert
1920 - 1923 George L. Burton
1923 - 1933 Major General Hugh L. Scott
1933 - 1935 Colonel Arthur F. Foran

Through the years, organizational changes were made and in 1935, highway management and administration was changed to a single State Highway Commissioner reporting directly to the governor.

State Highway Commissioners
1935 - 1942 E. Donald Sterner
1942 - 1950 Spencer Miller, Jr.
1950 - 1954 Ransford J. Abbott
1954 - 1966 Dwight R. G. Palmer

In 1966, the Legislature established the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), which has had many changes in its 50 year history but its mission has basically remained the same - to provide reliable, environmentally and socially responsible transportation and motor vehicle networks and services to support and improve the safety and mobility of people and goods in New Jersey.

Last updated date: July 5, 2019 11:24 AM