The Old Weston Underpass

Photo from the collection of Art Shandor • Click to enlarge

At some point in the 1970’s, the need arose to widen the underpass at Kennedy Blvd & Main St. This is a point of mystery and a fact of life for  Manville folk, especially since the original bridge was just filled up with dirt, and is literally still there. You can see the new construction in the background of this photo or just off to the left of the current bridge when entering Manville from the south. The original underpass was really similar to the one on Kyle St. that goes into “Lost Valley”. I love that Lost Valley bridge, but it’s dangerous as all hell. Two cars cannot fit through it at once, it’s also built at a weird angle. You have to veer into the oncoming lane to see into it. I’m assuming a lot of the same problems existed with the old Main St. underpass. Take a look at this 1953 Historic Areal map… If you click on it, it will expand in a new window.

So, you can see compared to what we have now, this setup was not optimal. If you wanted to make a left onto Main, you couldn’t see through the bridge on your right to find out if there were any cars coming. Plus if you were leaving town, you were basically doing a u turn, merging, and going through a bridge all at the same time. The bridge was set up at an angle that was impossible to navigate safely, and with the growing population, it was becoming a real problem. So they totally reconstructed it. Take a look at this photo from 1979…

In this photo you can see that they actually took Main St. and kind of moved further away from Kennedy Blvd. to straighten it out. They also made the jug handle to get rid of people making left hand turns off of Main St. onto Kennedy. If you look closely at this photo you can see a black curve right where Kennedy starts to bend… that’s literally the old road, so you can see how dramatic the landscape changed. They sort of bent Kennedy out away from the tracks and extended it to meet up with Main St way before the bridge. All of these changes were made just a few years before I was born, so I do not remember the old set up, but my family tells me it was really dangerous. I’d love to hear some comments or horror stories on this bridge, as most of what I know is just hear say or speculation. Also, I noticed on the ’53 map that a pretty big building was removed when Main St. was moved over. Anyone know what it was? It would’ve been right in front of where the modern underpass now stands.

Larry thanks again for getting me these great photos!

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18 thoughts on “The Old Weston Underpass

  1. I used to work for Kachorsky and Son , the Manville Borough Engineers, during high school in the early 70’s so I remember the drawings for this change. Not sure what year it was completed. I also remember the old underpass during the 60’s. I wouldn’t even ride my bike through that underpass it was so dangerous. Had to go slow. There were quite a few accidents there. I lived in Weston on Ruth Place. Thanks for the pictures. Brings back great memories growing up in Manville.

  2. that’s some great pictures,i remember the old underpass,like someone there said,riding your bike thru it was almost a disaster.

  3. I was probably about 10 when that underpass was replaced. It was kind of the feeling of a rollercoaster ride where you are not quite ready for what was ahead. I must have taken my bike through it on the way to/from Colonial Park. I miss that old quirky underpass, but I couldn’t imagine it with today’s traffic! As a kid, I mostly remember passing through it on the way out of town on our summer family camping vacations thinking “I’m not in Kansas anymore”. To me, that underpass was the great divide between Manville and the rest of the world.

      • “Introducing > Vince & Dom”…
        When you click on the Franklin News-Record link above (March 13, 1969), also do a find on “pizza”. This will take you to page 5 and you will see an ad introducing Manville Pizzeria!
        On that same page, above, is a picture of my Godmother Dot (Mrs Stanley) Mleczko with the Elks Ladies Auxilliary.

    • Ken Esock here. Mike is correct, the building was Esock’s Atlantic. My dad and uncle Joe & John Esock owned the place. Being next to the underpass we would see all kinds of crazy things. The best was when large tractor-trailers would try to make it under they would either get stuck because of the low height or sometimes they would just barrel through and rip the top off the trailer.

  4. I was coming into town and just before the bridge the right side of my 61 rambler classic dropped down and started pulling to the right. I fought it all the way to Bill’s 66 on Camplain & 13th(I worked there). Bill looked under it and just said”park it”. I put it in reverse, back up a foot and the wheel folded up under ther fender. Haha..Ramblers had some kind of wacky bushings instead of balljoints and they always snapped.

      • I remember Artie, he was a good guy. Didn’t he drive an oil truck or something after he left the garage? My dad and I both worked there. That wa syour typical gas station hangout..

  5. I meant tunnel in above post…………I did enjoy flying through that tunnel. Wish they never changed it. I like the checkered flag they had painted on it. Made you want to go faster..

  6. The Lost Valley underpass was also very dangerous (still is) before they installed the pedestrian tunnel. You either went up and over the railroad tracks or you ran through the underpass very quickly.

  7. Back then 1966, I had bankrupt newspaper route for Star-Ledger and my truck was a double spaced chain 1955 Schwinn Springer ladies bike (hoo-hoo) with two big baskets on the back and one big one on the front.Now,today’s StarLedger is no way worth $2 for a Sunday because back then a Sunday weighed about seven pounds.Multiply that by 40 customers,stuff them into a bike that weighed in at about 500 pounds and have a nice blizzard or icy day or even just pouring rain.Then try to NOT get slammed by cars trying to get thru that bridge.SUICIDAL….After that I had to get UP Kennedy BLVD with that wreck.Every day.

    Yeah,watching today’s fat kids use Playstations and Wiis I know they would
    NEVER be doing anything remotely like this to try and earn some money.

  8. I remember going through that underpass with my Mother, back in about 1968. I remember an old guy walking under the bridge. He was wearing a hat and had a cane. It was wet out and there were puddles that accumulated under the bridge. I remember after going through that my Mother pulled over to the side of the road and told me to wait as the old guy had slipped in the puddle. She helped him up and she told me that the guy claimed that she ran him down but she was sure he only slipped in the puddle. I know it was a tight fit but Ma was a careful driver and had never even been in an accident as long as I can remember. We were driving what I believe was an older car from the early 50’s. I can also remember “Weston Snag” graffitied on the North side of that bridge for the longest time.

  9. Pingback: Police cars under the old Weston underpass | Manville, NJ … Revolution on the Millstone

  10. The construction of the new underpass began in 1968. Because of funding issues the new underpass was completed but the re-routing of the road was not completed until 1972. The pumping station was built and the entire road was basically built over where the Royce Brook flowed. Remember Skolls Delicatessen? This is the building just south of the filled in old underpass. The bus to New York City would do a pickup in front of this store. South Main St basically lined up with the front of that building before construction of the underpass was completed. Also, a crossing guard guided children through the narrow underpass until the new one was finally completed.

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