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Need #1: Alleviate traffic congestion and improve operational reliability along the Route 17 “bottleneck”
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Need #1: Alleviate traffic congestion and improve operational reliability along the Route 17 “bottleneck”
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Need #2 – Restore the appropriate balance of traffic between Route 17 and parallel local and county streets
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Need #2 – Restore the appropriate balance of traffic between Route 17 and parallel local and county streets
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Need #3 – Improve safety in the project corridor
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Need #3 – Improve safety in the project corridor
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Need #4 – Improve the condition and reliability of the existing corridor infrastructure, including structures, pavements, drainage, and related features
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Need #4 – Improve the condition and reliability of the existing corridor infrastructure, including structures, pavements, drainage, and related features
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Route 17 SB approaching Rochelle Avenue exit
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Southeast corner of bridge over Pleasant Avenue
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Southwest corner of bridge over NYS&W Railroad
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Passaic Street looking west toward Rochelle Avenue
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NB queues extend south of Essex Street from Bottleneck
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NB Route 17 approaching Essex Street (south bottleneck)
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Corridor constrained operations between Essex Street and Central Avenue
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Route 17 midday operations in constrained section (Central Avenue to Passaic Street)
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Route 17 midday operations in constrained section (Central Avenue to Passaic Street)
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Route 17 midday operations in constrained section (Central Avenue to Passaic Street)
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Passaic Street Exit
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Route 17 North at Route 4 Split
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Route 17 Viewed from Garden State Plaza
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Route 17 at Rochelle Avenue Exit
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Route 17 at Rochelle Avenue Exit
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Southbound Ramp from E. Passaic Avenue
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Southbound Ramp from E. Passaic Avenue
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NB Route 17 near Marinus Street (Outback Steakhouse)
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Route 17 midday operations near Woodland Avenue
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Constrained NB operations and geometrics at Grove Street
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Constrained flow at NB lane drop (north of Essex Street)
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NB congestion at lane drop (at Essex Street)

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What are Alternatives Analysis, Preliminary Engineering, and Environmental Documentation?

This ongoing program consists of three interrelated steps that develop a range of transportation alternatives for a given project and ultimately create a single Preferred Alternative that addresses community, environmental, and other needs. The steps of the program are briefly described as follows:

  • Alternatives Analysis (including Concept Development) considers a range of transportation alternatives in terms of how they address the Project Purpose and Need. This review includes an Initial Screening Process during which numerous concepts are reviewed qualitatively to identify which best meet the Purpose and Need. The Route 17 Bottleneck Project Purpose and Need is discussed on the Home page.
  • Preliminary Engineering may be considered the second part of Alternatives Analysis. During Preliminary Engineering, a refined list of concepts and variations is studied in greater detail to define and quantify the impacts and benefits of each. At the start of this process, the Public Outreach effort commences through a series of meetings with public officials, during which particular issues and concerns are discussed. This input is then combined with technical studies of roadway design, traffic operations, structures, drainage, right-of-way, environmental issues, and other factors. The Route 17 Bottleneck Project Public Outreach process is discussed on the Public Involvement page.
  • Environmental Documentation establishes how the project will preserve and/or mitigate the natural and community environments when the project is designed and constructed. The project may require a Categorical Exclusion (CE), Environmental Assessment (EA), or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) depending on the nature and scope of the environmental impacts identified. All of these documents describe the impacts and proposed mitigations or ameliorations, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

What does the term “bottleneck” mean?
In traffic terminology, a “bottleneck” is a roadway location that restricts the amount of traffic that can pass in a given amount of time, just like the neck of a bottle restricts the amount of liquid that can pour out. The “bottleneck” on Route 17 is where there are two lanes in each direction in the Maywood / Rochelle Park / southern Paramus area, whereas the roadway approaching the “bottleneck” from the north and south has three lanes in each direction.

Why has the “bottleneck” area been proposed for improvement?

Four particular Project Needs have been identified in the Project Purpose and Need:

  • Alleviate traffic congestion and improve operational reliability along the Route 17 “bottleneck”
  • Restore the appropriate balance of traffic between Route 17 and parallel local and county streets
  • Improve safety in the project corridor
  • Improve the condition and reliability of the existing corridor infrastructure, including structures, pavements, drainage, and related features


Through the Alternatives Analysis, Preliminary Engineering, and Environmental Documentation process, a range of concepts and variations have been developed and tested against these Project Needs and the concerns of motorists, communities, public transit, the environment, and other stakeholders. The program of Alternatives Analysis, Preliminary Engineering, and Environmental Documentation exists to make sure that all of the important needs and concerns are accounted for before beginning engineering design.


Is the community going to have a chance to provide input?
A series of introductory meetings were held with municipal public officials from Rochelle Park, Maywood, and Paramus during August and September 2009. Input from these officials or their designees was considered by the study team and was helpful in refining the alternatives.

A second series of meetings with public officials were held in March 2010. Further comment and input was received and considered.

Following the installation of the current Board of Chosen Freeholders, two (2) presentations and Question & Answer sessions were held at Board Working Meetings, open to the public, in February and March 2011.

Public Information Centers (PICs) will be held at major milestones or phases to allow for public review, exchange of information and ideas, and to seek public input. At the PICs, team members will answer questions and hear comments from attendees. Comment sheets will be provided so that interested residents and other stakeholders can submit written comments to the project team. For each PIC, a summary will be prepared to identify and document the major issues raised by the public and other stakeholders regarding the project. These issues will be taken into consideration during the project development process.

The first Public Information Center, following advancement of technical studies, was held on Tuesday, April 20, 2010. Over 125 local stakeholders, business owners, and residents attended this first PIC, held at the Maywood Public Library. Comments received at the PIC have been reviewed and will be considered in the forthcoming selection of a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA).

In May 2012, a meeting was held by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, to which representatives of the three municipalities within the “Bottleneck” section were invited to participate and comment upon the process and alternatives developed through that time. Numerous comments were received, and additional studies of right-of-way valuation and effects were undertaken and distributed to the three municipalities. Review and discussion initiated in this process is ongoing.


A second Public Information Center is currently anticipated to be held during mid-late 2014, following the conclusion of reviews by the primary public transportation agencies (Bergen County, NJDOT, and FHWA) of Alternative 2 (see the Project Status page). A third series of meetings with public officials is also anticipated to be held at this time.

A third Public Information Center, including a Public Hearing for the draft environmental document, is planned following the selection of the Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) and the submittal and public review of the draft environmental document and technical support documents. A timetable for this third PIC has not been established. A fourth series of meetings with public officials is also anticipated to be held at this time.


In addition to the public officials meetings and Public Information Centers, community members may provide input directly through this website. A comment form is available on the Contact page.

What other milestones will occur prior to the start of Final Design?

It is currently anticipated that the completion of the Alternatives Analysis, Preliminary Engineering, and Environmental Documentation process will require an additional 12-18 months and include these milestones:

  • Completion of Technical Studies – Expected mid-2014
  • Next Round of Public Involvement / Second Public Information Center – Expected Mid-Late 2014
  • Recommendation for Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) – Expected Late 2014
  • Publication of Draft Environmental Document and Technical Support Documents – Expected Early 2015
  • Stakeholder / Public Review Period – Expected Spring 2015
  • Additional Round of Public Involvement / Third Public Information Center (Comments to Environmental Documentation) –Expected Spring 2015
  • Agency Approvals (Anticipated) – Summer-Fall 2015

When will construction start?
After completing Alternatives Analysis, Preliminary Engineering, and Environmental Documentation, the project must receive the necessary approvals and funding, and advance through Final Design and property acquisition before a project is completed and ready for a contract to be bid. The durations of the design phases depend on the needs and concerns that are identified and that must be accounted for in the design. At this time (Spring 2014), funding for final design, right-of-way acquisition and construction has not been programmed within the State Transportation Improvement Plan. It remains the intent of Bergen County to complete the ongoing project scope, through the receipt of environmental approval, during which time additional funding sources will continue to be sought to advance the project. Until funding is identified, the status and schedule for final design, right-of-way acquisition and construction remain indeterminate.

What has the Project Team been doing since the April 2010 Public Information Center?
Since April 2010, the Project Team has considered comments from project stakeholders, including residents, business owners, and public agencies and has increased coordination with project stakeholders. As a result, the team has been developing a new Alternative, designated as Alternative 2, for the project corridor. This alternative is currently under review by primary public transportation agencies. Please see the Project Status page for further detail on the efforts completed to date and project milestones.

When is the next public meeting to view the ongoing Alternative 2 effort?
The next round of public meetings is currently anticipated to be in Mid-Late 2014. However, the timing of these next meetings is linked to the ongoing reviews by primary public transportation agencies (Bergen County, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)) and is subject to change. More information on the next round of public meetings will be posted to this website as it becomes available. Plans and other materials developed for Alternative 2 will be posted to this website following the completion of the review by the primary public transportation agencies (Bergen County, NJDOT, and FHWA). The completion of their Alternative 2 review will initiate the third round of public outreach, at which time Alternative 2 will be posted after meeting with local officials. Note that the posting of Alternative 2 would not constitute a selection of the Preliminary Preferred Alternative.
Page Updated 4/28/2014