New Jersey Route 15
|Maintained by NJDOT|
|Length:||19.16 mi (30.84 km)|
|Existed:||1953 – present|
|South end:||US 46 in Dover|
| I‑80 in Wharton
Route 181 in Sparta
Route 94 in Lafayette
|North end:||US 206 / CR 565 in Frankford Township|
Route 15 is a state highway in New Jersey, spanning Morris and Sussex counties, which heads for 19.16 miles (30.84 km) from U.S. Route 46 (East McFarland Street) in Dover to an intersection with U.S. Route 206 in Frankford Township. It becomes a divided highway in Jefferson Township until becoming a freeway bypass near Sparta. Route 15 was originally Route 6A from 1927 until 1953, when a renumbering occurred and the route was given its current number. Since the finishing of the Sparta Bypass, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority have considered more bypasses and alignment changes for 15.
Route 15 begins at an interchange with U.S. Route 46, slightly to the east of the underpass Route 15 used to use to pass under U.S. Route 46 and access Dover. Route 15 then winds through Dover concurrent with several streets. The road remains two lanes past the turn for the Rockaway Townsquare Mall, in the township of Rockaway. For a very short distance Route 15 becomes a freeway as it crosses the Interstate 80 interchange. A mile north, the road becomes a four lane divided highway with exits for a few businesses and Picatinny Arsenal. At that point, Route 15 leaves Rockaway Township and enters Jefferson Township. In Jefferson Township, the northbound and southbound lanes become about a quarter mile apart as it climbs up a steep mountain. The Southbound lanes have businesses, easy access to them, and a speed limit of 40 mph as this was the original lanes of Route 15 when it was only a 2 lane highway. The northbound lanes are nearly a freeway with limited access to businesses on the southbound lanes. The northbound lanes have a speed limit of 50 mph as well. These two lanes were built in the late 1960s.
Slightly farther north, Route 15 becomes a freeway and the northbound and southbound lanes come closer together. At this point, the original two-lane Route 15 breaks off into Route 181, heading through Jefferson Township and into downtown Sparta. Several miles north, the freeway leaves Morris County in Jefferson Township and enters Sussex County and Sparta Township, bypassing downtown Sparta. After bypassing downtown Sparta, Route 181 ends and merges onto Route 15. The freeway then ends and Route 15 becomes a two-lane road. After Route 15 leaves Sparta and enters Lafayette Township, it merges with Route 94. Routes 15 and 94 run as a concurrency until Route 94 turns off to the southeast while Route 15 heads northwest. It continues into Frankford Township and comes to an end at U.S. Route 206 and County Route 565.
Before the 1953 New Jersey state highway renumbering, NJ 15 was designated as State Highway Route 6A, beginning in 1927. In the renumbering, NJ 15 was assigned. Originally Route 15 was a 2 lane road all the way down to Picitinny Arsenal. The road originally went through downtown Sparta and today that road is known as route 181. In the mid-1960s, Route 15 was to expand and become 4 lanes several miles into Jefferson Township. But businesses were on both sides of this road making a widening difficult. So the additional 2 lanes were built behind the businesses on the left side of the road heading south. In 1974, a bypass freeway was built around the Sparta Business district and into Jefferson Township. The freeway began several miles into Sparta and would extend to the area where 15 was divided into 4 lanes back in the '60s.
In Sparta, New Jersey Department of Transportation commissioner Jack Lettire and state senator Robert Littell announced the completion of a project of restructuring the NJ 15-Houses Corner Road intersection, which began ground breaking in 2002 by James E. McGreevey, then-governor of New Jersey. The project was completed in August 2004. The original intersection was a signalized intersection with a blinking light and no left turn-off lanes from NJ 15. Because of heavy traffic, turning left onto Houses Corner Road became dangerous for motorists. The intersection has a full traffic light. The project cost a total of $15.5 million.
There is an ongoing local grassroots movement to honor the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan by renaming Route 15 after him. Most recently on February 2, 2012, a bill was introduced in the New Jersey General Assembly by Assemblymen Michael Patrick Carroll, Gary R. Chiusano, Jay Webber and Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose to designate Route 15 as the "Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway".
Wilson Drive and White Lake Road were also realigned to form one signalized intersection, with completion expected in 2008. The intersection was improved, with construction finishing on June 1, 2009, after eight months of work starting in October 2008. The project cost the state $2.3 million (2009 USD) to fund for construction by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. Studies are being made to improve the Route 15 corridor from I-80 to U.S. Route 206. Concepts include widening, the addition of climbing lanes, and a potential bypass of Lafayette.
|Morris||Dover||0.37||0.60||US 46 (West McFarland Street) – Clifton, Lake Hopatcong|
|Wharton||2.05||3.30||I‑80 – Netcong, Delaware Water Gap, Denville, Paterson, New York||I-80 exit 34; no direct access from NJ 15 north to I-80 west|
|2.52||4.06||North Main Street (CR 634 south)||Interchange; no northbound exit|
|Rockaway Township||2.59||4.17||Richard Mine Road - Mount Hope, Lake Denmark||Interchange; no direct southbound entrance|
|2.68||4.31||Picatinny Arsenal (Parker Road)||Interchange|
|Jefferson Township||6.65||10.70||Lake Shawnee||Northbound exit only|
|6.93||11.15||Route 181 north / Weldon Road – Lake Forest, Woodport, Milton, Oak Ridge, Lake Hopatcong North Shore||Interchange; south end of freeway|
|Sussex||Sparta Township||10.34||16.64||Route 181 – Sparta, Lake Mohawk Business District|
|12.52||20.15||CR 517 – Sparta, Franklin|
|14.11||22.71||Route 181 south (Woodport Road) – Sparta, Lake Mohawk Business District||North end of freeway|
|Lafayette Township||16.61||26.73||Route 94 north – Franklin, Hamburg, Vernon||South end of NJ 94 overlap|
|16.89||27.18||Route 94 south – Newton||North end of NJ 94 overlap|
|Ross Corner (Frankford Township)||19.53||31.43||US 206 / CR 565 north (Sussex Road) – Branchville, Milford, Newton, Sussex, Airport|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- New Jersey Department of Transportation. "Route 15 straight line diagram" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-04-08.
- State of New Jersey, Laws of 1927, Chapter 319.
- New Jersey Department of Transportation (2007). "Route 15 and Houses Corner Road project completed in Sussex County". New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
- New Jersey Assembly Bill 2208, introduced February 2, 2012.
- "NJDOT announces completion of intersection improvements at Route 15, Wilson Drive and White Lake Road in Sparta". New Jersey Department of Transportation. June 1, 2009. Retrieved September 10, 2009.
- North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (2007). "Route 15 Improvements" (PDF). North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
- New Jersey Department of Transportation (2007). "Route 15 bypass study". New Jersey Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
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