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Interstate 478 New York

 

Routing

Interstate 478 is a short spur route from Interstate 278 north to the southern tip of Manhattan via the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. This freeway is not signed as an Interstate highway, but it is listed on the federal rolls as Interstate 478. Maps from the early 1980s show Interstate 478 extending north as far as mid-town Manhattan, but with the removal of the freeway West Side Highway, Interstate 478 was reduced significantly in length.

Today, the section of Interstate 478 that used to exist north of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is New York 9A. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center complex, Interstate 478 gained notoriety as a strategic entrance/exit to/from Manhattan. As such, it is well-guarded, and it may be closed due to potential threats, along with other bridges and tunnels in the vicinity.

Interstate 78, the parent route, terminates a short distance north of here, at the east end of the Holland Tunnel in Manhattan. While none of the Interstate 78 child routes (278, 478, 678, or 878) actually meet Interstate 78 itself, Interstate 478 comes closest to meeting its parent.

Interstate 478 passes under the East River, connecting Brooklyn with Manhattan via an underwater tunnel. This helps keep the view free of bridges and related structures both at the lower tip of downtown Manhattan as well as on Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway (which is where this photo was taken). Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).

History

The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened to traffic in 1950.

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - Interstate 278 - Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Perspective from Interstate 478 south
Traveling south on Interstate 478, the two-lane tunnel for southbound traffic has a barrier that prevents lane changing. The tunnel travels down to cross under the East River, then comes back up to emerge in the borough of Brooklyn in Kings County. Ahead, the tunnel daylights. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
Now at the south end of Interstate 478 and after the toll plaza, the left lanes connect to Interstate 278/BQE west (south) to Staten Island and the Belt Parkway; the middle lane connects to Hamilton Avenue (signed as Alternate Interstate 278); and the right lanes connect to Interstate 278/BQE east (north) to Atlantic Avenue and the Bronx. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
A two-lane transition ramp connects southbound Interstate 478 with northbound (eastbound) Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
Perspective from Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway east
Interstate 278 east approaches Exit 25, which connects to Interstate 478/Brooklyn Battery Tunnel north. The tunnel, like most other New York City area crossings, carries a toll. For traffic continuning eastward along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queensboro Bridges await. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Justin Cozart (06/13/05).
The left two lanes become exit only for Interstate 478/Brooklyn Battery Tunnel north, while the right two lanes continue northeast on Interstate 278/Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). The next exit is Exit 26, Hamilton Avenue. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Justin Cozart (06/13/05).
Traffic for northbound Interstate 478/Brooklyn Battery Tunnel must use the left two lanes, while the right two lanes continue east on Interstate 278/Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). A toll is required for northbound traffic to Lower Manhattan. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Justin Cozart (06/13/05).
Interstate 478/Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and Interstate 278/Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) split at this point, with Interstate 478 connecting to Lower Manhattan and Interstate 278 continuing northeast to serve Brooklyn and the Bronx. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Justin Cozart (06/13/05).
Immediately after the split, eastbound Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway reaches Exit 26, Hamilton Avenue. After following an elevated viaduct over the Interstate 478 interchange, Interstate 278 will quickly lower itself to below grade before reaching its next offramp (Exit 27, Atlantic Avenue). Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Justin Cozart (06/13/05).
Perspective from Interstate 478 north
After departing Interstate 278, northbound Interstate 478 immediately approaches the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Photo taken by Cesar Centano (08/22/08).
Northern Terminus - New York 9A - Manhattan, New York City, New York
Perspective from Interstate 478 north
Leaving the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (Interstate 478); New York 9A is up ahead (West St). Photo taken by Dan Moraseski (Winter 2001).
Perspective from New York 9A south
Now traveling south on New York 9A, Exit 2 is signed as the connection from West Street to southbound Interstate 478/Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. It is signed as "To Interstate 278." Photos taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
Perspective from Interstate 478 south
This tunnel connects southbound New York 9A/West Street with the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. It is the beginning of Interstate 478 south, but there are no reassurance markers. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
After emerging from the connecting tunnel, Interstate 478 south takes a brief moment at street level and then prepares to enter the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
This photo provides a different perspective of the tunnel entrance, as seen from the site of the World Trade Center. Note the signage is different compared to the previous photo. Photo taken by Andy Field (5/99).
The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened on May 25, 1950, after nearly ten years of construction. It was added to the Interstate Highway System in 1971 as part of the Westway project; when that project was canceled in 1985, Interstate 478 was reduced to the tunnel and its approaches as a spur from Interstate 278 to Lower Downtown Manhattan. For more, visit Interstate 478: Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (by Steve Anderson). Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
Continuing south on Interstate 478, the two-lane tunnel for southbound traffic has a barrier that prevents lane changing. The tunnel travels down to cross under the East River, then comes back up to emerge in the borough of Brooklyn in Kings County. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (08/09/04).
Perspective from area near World Trade Center Site
This picture is on the exit from the tunnel, approaching West Street just beyond the exit from the tunnel shown in the previous photo. Interstate 478 northbound ends here. A left turn leads to the Battery Park Underpass. The middle sign right arrow directs traffic to the Holland Tunnel and Lincoln Tunnel. Photo taken by Andy Field (5/99).
Perspective from former World Trade Center building
View of the tunnel entrance from the top floor of the World Trade Center. To the right, the photo also shows the entrance to the Battery Park Underpass (connecting the West Side Highway and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive). Sadly, this view is no longer possible due to the events of September 11, 2001. Photo taken by Andy Field (5/99).

Page Updated August 30, 2009.

 
Mileage

State New York
Mileage 2.14
Cities New York City (Manhattan and Brooklyn)
Junctions Interstate 278
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate ? Annual Average Daily Traffic

County From: To: AADT Composite
Kings Interstate 278 Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Brooklyn Battery Tunnel & New York County line 43,600
New York Brooklyn Battery Tunnel & New York County line New York 9A West Side Highway 59,500
Source: NYSDOT 2002 Traffic Volume Report

 
This map inset from the 1969 New Jersey Official Map shows an early proposed routing of Interstate 478 over the Manhattan Bridge rather than the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
This was part of the planned Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have taken Interstate 78 across Manhattan from the Holland Tunnel east to both the Williamsburg Bridge (via Interstate 78) and the Manhattan Bridge (via Interstate 478). Upon crossing the Manhattan Bridge, Interstate 478 would end at Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE). However, when the plans for the Lower Manhattan Expressway and Interstate 78 were canceled in March 1971, Interstate 478 was transferred to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and West Side Highway (New York 9A). Since the West Side Highway was not upgraded to Interstate standards, Interstate 478 only follows the tunnel from Interstate 278 north to New York 9A and is unsigned.
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