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Lincoln Highway Hackensack River Bridge

Lincoln Highway Hackensack River Bridge

Lincoln Highway Hackensack River Bridge carries Truck US Routes 1 and 9 over the Hackensack River in Jersey City, New Jersey.


In 1765, the Assembly of the Province of New Jersey authorized the construction of a plank road between Newark and Paulus Hook along the Hudson River. 1 It incorporated two existing roadways: Ferry Street in Newark on the west bank of the Passaic River, and another across the southern tip of New Barbadoes Neck to a Brown’s Ferry 3 4 5 at the Hackensack River. The road then traveled east over Bergen Hill and connected with the Bergen Point Plank Road at Communipaw Junction.

In 1849, a charter was granted by the New Jersey General Assembly to upgrade and operate the toll road, which became known as the Newark Plank Road. 4 Soon after, the Newark Plank Road & Ferry Company requested and received permission to build bridges over the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers. A wooden half-pivot draw bridge was built across the Hackensack by 1856. 6 7

Streetcar service along the plank road was initiated in 1895, which later became part of the Newark-Jersey City No. 1 line. 8 A new bridge over the river was constructed in 1906. 9

The plank road was significantly improved during the Good Roads Movement, 11 and was incorporated as part of the Lincoln Highway, 12 the first transcontinental highway in the United States. 13 The new and improved roadway was completed at the cost of $1.25 million and dedicated on December 13, 1913. 14 Despite its improvements, the roadway became one of the busiest in the nation and the bridge over the Hackensack had become overburdened by the close of the decade.

Swing span crossings were typically built where wide navigational channels needed to be crossed, but they had significant drawbacks as they were slow to open and close, and pilots with wide barges had difficulty navigating between the mid-channel pivot and river piers. 2 Additionally, swing bridges were often built just a few feet above mean high water which required that the crossing be opened for all but the smallest of vessels.

The passenger bridge became increasingly outmoded with each succeeding year as maritime traffic along the Hackensack River grew, with the bridge opening as much as 35 times per day, delaying river traffic and automobiles alike. 2

On June 22, 1922, the steamship Glendaruel collided with the Lincoln Highway bridge, first hitting the bulkhead and then swerving to hit the main span which had been opened to let it pass. 9 15 The structure then toppled over into the river.

The crashing of the Glendaruel vessel into the Lincoln Highway swing span resulted in insurance underwriters no longer insuring large self-propelled vessels for damages caused to bridges because of the risk of navigating the Hackensack River near the swing bridges. During the summer of 1924, Col. H.C. Newcomer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held hearings on the fate of the swing bridges as the Corps called the crossings as obstructions to navigation because of their low clearance above the water and narrow draw openings. 10 At public hearings, the representatives of various industries and commercial interests pleaded for larger, higher bridges that would provide a minimum vertical clearance of 35 to 40 feet to allow nearly all tugs to pass unimpeded.

The destroyed structure was replaced with a double-leaf bascule bridge in 1927, but on December 15, 1928, the east leaf of the bridge and its trunnion fell into the river. 16 It was determined that the bridge was capable of bearing loads crossing the roadway, but not of handling the stresses of opening and closing the leafs, which led to metal fatigue. 17 18 The structure was repaired and reopened to traffic.

Construction of a vertical lift bridge began in 1951. 19 Costing $8 million to build, the new six-lane crossing opened in June 1954 after a dedication ceremony attended by Governor Robert B. Meyner. 20 The bridge was rehabilitated in 2003 and repaired and repainted in 2009-11.




  • State: New Jersey
  • Route: Truck US Routes 1 and 9
  • Type: Vertical Lift, Warren Through Truss
  • Status: Active - Automobile
  • Total Length: 1,480 feet
  • Main Span Length: 222 feet
  • Spans:
  • Deck Width: 75 feet
  • Height: 73.5 feet
  • Above Vertical Clearance: 16.2 feet


  1. Urquhart, Frank J. A History of the City of Newark, New Jersey: Embracing Practically Two and a Half Centuries, 1666-1913. Lewis Historical Publishing, 1913.
  2. Modica, Glenn R. “The Hackensack River Vertical Lift Bridges Historic District.” New Jersey Department of Transportation.
  3. Rae-Turner, Jean and Richard T. Koles. Newark. Arcadia Publishing, 2001, p. 59.
  4. Robinson, Walter F. “Old Bergen Township (Now Hudson County) in the American Revolution.” Bayonne Bicentennial Committee, 1976.
  5. Shalhoub, Patrick B. Jersey City. Arcadia Publishing, 1995.
  6. Charles E. Milnor vs. The Newark Plank Road and Ferry Co. & Als, 1856.
  7. Report of the Assembly Committee Appointed to Inquire into the Condition of the Bridges over the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers in the Counties of Union, Essex, Hudson. Trenton: New Jersey Assembly, 1865.
  8. North Jersey Street Railway.” NJT/Public Service Line.
  9. “Ship Smashes Bridge over Hackensack.” New York Times, 23 Jun. 1922.
  10. History.” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 2020.
  11. KSK Architects Historians Planners, editor. “Highway Era.” New Jersey Historic Roadway Survey, New Jersey Department of Transportation, 2011, p. 99.
  12. “A Famous Highway Old Plank Road in New Jersey Established in 1765.” New York Times, 26 Jul. 1914.
  13. Sheweber, Nate. “A Design From an Earlier, Steel-Heavy Era.” New York Times, 27 Dec. 2005.
  14. “How the ‘Lincoln Way’ Project Now Stands.” New York Times, 5 Apr. 1914.
  15. Modica, Glenn. “The Hackensack River Vertical Lift Bridges Historic District.” Richard Grubb Associates.
  16. “Bridge Lift Crashes into the Hackensack.” New York Times, 16 Dec. 1928.
  17. Lincoln Highway Bascule Drops into River.” Engineering News-Record, 20 Dec. 1928.
  18. “Fight Wooden Span on the Hackensack.” New York Times, 19 Dec. 1928.
  19. Haff, Joseph O. “Jersey is Building $300,000,000 Roads.” New York Times, 26 Feb. 1953.
  20. “$8,000,000 Span Opened.” New York Times, 18 Jun. 1954.

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