Interstate 280 is a nearly 18 mile highway that connects I-80, a major interstate connecting New York City to San Francisco, in Parsippany, NJ to the city of Newark and I-95, the New Jersey Turnpike in Kearny.
The the eastern most part of 280, originally called Route 28A was legislated in 1939, and renamed Route 58 in 1953.
When the Essex Freeway was planned to alleviate traffic along Route 10, a popular State Highway, it was decided that connecting I-80 to I-95 via Route 58 was, for various reasons, the way to go.
Construction was slow in the 1960’s beginning near Orange. A depressed highway was favored over an elevated option and the construction destroyed the downtown heart of Orange, East Orange and Newark.
In Orange, Interstate 280 and its entrances created a substantial wasteland between Main Street and the southern half of the township. No sign of Orange life is visible from the highway as commuters speed through the depressed corridor. Pedestrian walkways and side streets that cross the expanse of the highway are bleak, unused, colorless and unsafe.
Regardless of the benefits of the Highway, is it worth asking questions and attempting to reclaim some of what was lost in our community? We believe that telling the stories and understanding the wounds of 280, will give the people of Orange a better understanding of themselves and their history so that Orange can grow from a place of strength and healing.