Paul L. Troast

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Paul Lyman Troast (November 19, 1894 – July 21, 1972) was a wealthy building contractor from Passaic, New Jersey, chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority during its construction, and failed gubernatorial candidate in 1953.[1]


Born on November 19, 1894, in Garfield, New Jersey, Troast grew up in Passaic, New Jersey and graduated from Passaic High School in 1908, where he met his future wife, the former Eleanor Mahony; he had been president of his senior class and she had been vice president.[1]

New Jersey Turnpike[edit]

In January 1949, Governor of New Jersey Alfred E. Driscoll nominated Troast as the first of the three commissioners for the newly formed Turnpike Authority.[2]

In an August 1949 press release as chairman of the Turnpike Authority, Troast emphasized that the construction of the turnpike within two years would provide a superhighway that would alleviate congestion on existing roadways in the heavily industrialized northeastern portion of the state.[3] Emphasizing the need for speed in completing the project within his self-imposed two-year deadline, Troast posted a sign on his office ddor that read "The Turnpike Must Be Done By Nov. '51".[4]

According to a letter to the editor written by his daughter, Kathleen Troast Pitney: "Governor Driscoll appointed three men to the Turnpike Authority in the late 1940s -- Maxwell Lester, George Smith and Paul Troast, my father, as chairman. They had no enabling legislation and no funding. They were able to open more than two-thirds of the road in 11 months, completing the whole (project) in less than two years. . . . When the commissioners broached the subject of landscaping the road. . . . the governor told them he wanted a road to take the interstate traffic . . . off New Jersey's existing roads. Since 85 percent of the traffic at that time was estimated to be from out of state, why spend additional funds on landscaping?"[5]

Run for New Jersey Governor[edit]

In 1953, Troast won the Republican nomination for Governor of New Jersey and faced Robert B. Meyner, a little-known one-term former member of the New Jersey Senate who had been chosen by a Democratic Party that was largely dysfunctional and hadn't been successful in getting a candidate elected to statewide office since 1940. Time wrote "county bosses ... pushed him through a bitter, party-splitting primary last April. Troast, with no political experience, was known principally for his chairmanship of the commission that built the $220 million New Jersey Turnpike. But his campaigning has been as flat as his turnpike. He was overconfident, started too late, and let the Democrats gobble up most of the best radio and television time.... Troast suffered his roundest wallop early in October, when newspapers broke the story that Troast had asked New York's Tom Dewey to commute the sentence of Labor Extortionist Joey Fay."[6][7] Seven major candidates had run in the primary, with Troast beating second place candidate Malcolm Forbes by 47,000 votes.[8]

Initially favored, he lost to Meyner by 154,000 votes in the November 1953 gubernatorial election, with Meyner winning what The New York Times described as a "surprising landslide plurality" in what had been expected as a tight race that Meyner was expected to win by a far narrower margin.[1][9] Meyner received 962,710 votes (53.2%), ahead of Troast with 809,068 (44.7%) and 39,034 ballots cast for third-party candidates.[10]

Business career[edit]

Troast made news again five years later, when, as Time reported: "Rush H. Kress, 81, ailing brother of the late founder of the 261-store S. H. Kress & Co. five-and-ten chain, was replaced as chairman by New Jersey Construction Executive Paul L. Troast, a leader in the revolt of Kress Foundation directors that stripped Rush Kress of power. Command of the slipping company (sales slid from $176 million in 1952 to $159 million last year) will be shared by Troast, recently named President George L. Cobb and Executive Committee Chairman Frank M. Folsom"[11] Troast was a trustee of Kress from 1951 to 1972.

Troast served as chairman of the board of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) and its affiliate, the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co., from 1963 until his death in 1972. According to the NJBIA, "he made so many contributions to New Jersey and its business community that Governor Richard J. Hughes called him 'Mr. New Jersey'." The NJBIA presents the Troast Award annually "to a public servant who has made an outstanding contribution to the State of New Jersey and its business community."[12]


In 1972, Troast died at his home in Clifton, New Jersey at the age of 77. He was survived by his children Paul Troast Jr., Kathleen Troast Pitney, Arthur Troast, John Troast and 19 grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Paul Troast, Led Jersey Turnpike" The New York Times, July 23, 1972. Accessed December 28, 2017.
  2. ^ "Budget In Jersey To Set A New High; Driscoll Asks $160,704,287 Total After $85,691,990 Cut in Estimates", The New York Times, February 1, 1949. Accessed December 28, 2017. "Governor Driscoll nominated one of the three members of the new State Turnpike Authority, created to establish 'luxury' highways to be financed by tolls. Paul L. Troast of Passaic, president of the Mahony-Troast Construction Company, was named."
  3. ^ 1999 Annual Report, New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Accessed December 28, 2017. "When New Jersey’s new toll super-highway is completed in two years, it will materially relieve the congestion and overloading on the public highway system, Paul L. Troast, chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, declared today.... 'There is no doubt in the minds of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority that the super-highway will relieve north-south traffic congestion on the public highways, especially in the highly industrialized areas of the north, from Elizabeth to the Turnpike’s northern terminus near the George Washington Bridge,' commented Mr. Troast."
  4. ^ Hart, Steven. The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America's First Superhighway, p. 173. The New Press, 2011. ISBN 9781595587480. Accessed December 28, 2017. "The impressive speed with which the project was brought to completion was due in part to executive determination. The chairman of the Turnpike Authority, Paul L. Troast, started work by hanging a sign on his office door that read THE TURNPIKE MUST BE DONE BY NOV. '51, and he meant it."
  5. ^ Letter to the Editor by daughter Kathleen Troast Pitney, The Star-Ledger, November 2, 2001, backed up by the Internet Archive as of January 3, 2016. Accessed December 28, 2017.
  6. ^ "An Inspiration to Democrats". Time. November 2, 1953.
  7. ^ King, Wayne. "Robert B. Meyner Is Dead at 81; Flamboyant New Jersey Governor", The New York Times, May 29, 1990. Accessed December 28, 2017. "Mr. Meyner was 45 years old and had held only one elective office, one term as a State Senator, when he was selected by a group of influential New Jersey Democrats as the organization's candidate for Governor in 1953. As the candidate of a shattered and nearly bankrupt Democratic Party in a state that had not elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1940, the little-known candidate was given little chance.... He also deftly engendered scandal, disclosing that his Republican opponent in 1953, Paul T. Troast, a wealthy building contractor, had written to Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York urging clemency for a notorious labor racketeer, Joseph Fay, then in a New York prison."
  8. ^ Wally Edge (December 29, 2006). "The battle of the billionaires".[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Wright, George Cable. "2 Upsets In Jersey; New Governor's Margin and Williams' Victory Were Unforeseen Meyner Is Elected Jersey Governor", The New York Times, November 4, 1953. Accessed December 28, 2017. "Robert B. Meyner, youthful Democratic lawyer, was elected Governor of New Jersey by a surprising landslide plurality.... Although Mr. Meyner had been expected to defeat his Republican opponent, Paul L. Troast, the predictions were for an exceedingly close race."
  10. ^ Result of the General Election Held November 3rd, 1953 "Votes Cast for the Office of Governor of the State of New Jersey", Secretary of State of New Jersey, 1953. Accessed December 28, 2017.
  11. ^ "Changes of the Week". Time. July 14, 1958.
  12. ^ "Senator Joseph Palaia Receives NJBIA's Paul L. Troast Award at Public Policy Forum", New Jersey Business and Industry Association, press release dated December 14, 204, backed up by the Internet Archive as of January 1, 2007. Accessed December 28, 2017. "The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) today announced that State Senator Joseph Palaia is the recipient of its 2004 Paul L. Troast Award. The Troast Award is presented annually to a public servant who has made an outstanding contribution to the State of New Jersey and its business community."
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alfred E. Driscoll
Republican Nominee for Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Malcolm Forbes