Like many highway corridors in the tri-state region, Route 23 in northern New Jersey has evolved over decades without any singular plan or coherent vision. From Cedar Grove to Riverdale, Route 23 passes through single-family neighborhoods, shopping centers, strip malls, and largely undeveloped areas. At times, it is a two-lane suburban street; at others, a six-lane divided highway. Drivers rely on Route 23 for local trips or to connect to other highways, such as Route 202, US 46, and I-80. In 2008, NJ Transit opened a Transit Center in Wayne, NJ on Route 23, allowing commuters to park and take a train or a bus to New York, Newark, Paterson, and other destinations.
Route 23 could become a model for how to retrofit a suburban highway into a better connected, pedestrian-friendly corridor than benefits the communities along it. The road already supports some level of transit, but with the right kind of growth and investment, it could become an essential component of northern New Jersey’s transit network. Recommendations in the Fourth Regional Plan include changing local zoning to enable new nodes of mixed-use development where there are already concentrations of activity near transit stops. At these nodes, new design standards for the highway would reduce accidents and create the conditions to promote walking and biking. With more people on public transportation, walking, and biking; with better management of highways through pricing; and ultimately, with the advent of shared, driverless vehicles, parking lots could be reclaimed for green infrastructure or new development.