What’s in a name?

Roadways and bridges are named for the famous


JEFF GRANIT staff You’re stuck in traffic again and you turn on the traffic report. You hear the names of bridges and roads over and over, but who are these people, and why do they have their own bridge?

Spanning the Raritan River, the Edison, Ellis S. Vieser and Driscoll bridges are three New Jersey bridges named for famous citizens. JEFF GRANIT staff Spanning the Raritan River, the Edison, Ellis S. Vieser and Driscoll bridges are three New Jersey bridges named for famous citizens. JEFF GRANIT staff The Driscoll Bridge spans the Raritan River between Sayreville and the Keasbey section of Woodbridge on the Garden State Parkway. It is named after Alfred E. Driscoll, who was governor of New Jersey 1947-54. He signed the law to construct the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike.

Adjacent to the Driscoll Bridge is the Edison Bridge on Route 9 north. It is named after the famous inventor Thomas A. Edison, who worked in the Menlo Park section of Raritan Township (renamed Edison) in Middlesex County.

The southbound bridge recently was named the Ellis S. Vieser Memorial Bridge. Vieser was a Middletown resident who founded the N.J. Alliance for Action, a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition for the betterment of the state.

Many people in the area think the Outerbridge Crossing, which runs from Perth Amboy to Staten Island, N.Y., is so called because it is the outermost bridge in the five boroughs of New York, but it is named for Eugenius H. Outerbridge. Outerbridge was the first chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Originally, the bridge was named the Arthur Kill Bridge. A kill is a creek and originated from the Middle Dutch “kille,” meaning water channel or riverbed.

The Holland Tunnel is not named for the native country of New York’s original European settlers. Clifford M. Holland was the first engineer of the tunnel between Manhattan and Jersey City. He died before the tunnel was completed.

The Route 1 bridge between Edison and New Brunswick spanning the Raritan River is actually a pair of bridges named for Morris and Donald Goodkind. The Goodkinds were a father and son who were engineers for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was named for the Tappan Indian tribe that lived in the area and the Dutch word “zee,” which means wide expanse. “Zee” was the name the Dutch called the Hudson River. The bridge spans the Hudson and is on Interstate 87/287.

George Washington Goethals was a U.S. Army officer and a civil engineer who supervised the construction of the Panama Canal. The Goethals Bridge connects Elizabeth with Staten Island.

The longest suspension bridge (4,260 feet) in the U.S. is the

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, crossing from Staten Island to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, N.Y. It is named for the first European explorer to enter New York Harbor, Giovanni da Verrazano. A fun fact: According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) website, “Seasonal contractions and expansions of the steel cables cause the double-decked roadway to be 12 feet lower in the summer than in the winter.”

The Kosciuszko Bridge on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway spans the Newtown Creek. It was named for the Polish-born Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a general in the RevolutionaryWar. There is an American eagle at one end and a Polish eagle at the other end of the bridge.

Living in New Jersey, we get traffic reports telling us of tie-ups in New York as well as in Philadelphia. Some of the Delaware River crossings include the Commodore Barry, the Ben Franklin, the Betsy Ross and the Walt Whitman bridges. Commodore John Barry was a Revolutionary War hero who lived in Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin was a statesman, inventor, publisher and signer of the Declaration of Independence during the Revolutionary War era. Legend says Betsy Ross was the seamstress of the first American flag. Walt Whitman was a poet and writer and is buried in Camden.

Roadways also bear the names of the famous.

Part of the Route 1 and 9 extension from Jersey City to Newark, the Pulaski Skyway is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was named after Gen. Casimir Pulaski, a Revolutionary War hero. The Polish-born Pulaski was known as the Father of the American Cavalry.

Maj. (William Francis) Deegan Expressway is in the Bronx, N.Y., and is part of Interstate 87. Deegan, an architect, was a major in the Army Corps of Engineers and a Democratic political leader in New York City. The Bruckner Expressway, also in the Bronx, was once Southern Boulevard and renamed for former Bronx Borough President Henry Bruckner in the 1940s.

The Van Wyck Expressway runs through Queens, N.Y., and was named after Robert A. Van Wyck, the first mayor of New York City after the five boroughs were combined to form one city.

A portion of Route 33 from Manalapan to Howell is known as the Theodore J. Narozanick Highway. It honors the longtime Monmouth County freeholder.

Rest stops also bear the names of the famed. (See the graphic above for the names of the rest areas on the New Jersey Turnpike.) Former Gov. Christie Whitman named a rest area on Interstate 295 in Florence for radio personality Howard Stern. Whitman joked during a 1995 campaign interview that if she won, she would name a rest area for him. It has since been closed due to high-maintenance costs and budget cuts.

History is around you, closer than you think.

Sources: Websites — www. state.nj.us/ transportation; www.panynj.gov/bridgestunnels; www.nycroads.com; Images of America: The New Jersey Turnpike, Michael Lapolla & Thomas A. Suszka.