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Interstate 878 New York

 

Routing

Now signed as New York 878, Interstate 878 is the portion of the Nassau Expressway that was built with Interstate Highway funds (only 0.70 mile in length, which makes Interstate 878 the shortest Interstate Highway). The portion west of Interstate 678 is only one-way but was built with federal highway funds; the portion east of Interstate 678 is a freeway for a very short duration before meeting its first traffic signal.

For our purposes, we'll consider the western terminus to be Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway and the eastern terminus to be the first traffic signal just east of the John F. Kennedy Expressway (at North Hangar Road). However, one can argue that Interstate 878 includes the one-way stretch west of Interstate 678 since it was built with Interstate Highway Funds, so another western terminus could be the transition ramps from Belt Parkway and New York 27/Conduit Avenue (but mileage figures do not support this, since that section is longer than 0.70 mile).

Like many expressways in metropolitan New York City, Interstate 878/Nassau Expressway was planned to be a longer freeway and was to incorporate today's surface expressway segments with freeway portions between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Atlantic Beach in Nassau County on Long Island.

History

The Nassau Expressway opened in 1971 as a one-way eastbound freeway and was originally planned to be part of the extension of Interstate 78 through Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Stub ramps remain in the Interstate 678 interchange for the eventual connection to the phantom westbound lanes, but it appears that the westbound direction will never be built.

The Interstate 78 project also was eliminated in 1971, but the orphaned Nassau Expressway reamined part of Interstate 78 until 1989, when Interstate 78 was redesignated as Interstate 878.1 The westbound lanes were planned to be built but were scrapped in 1981 due to community opposition and related concerns. The one-way segment extends between Cross Bay Boulevard and the Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway just south of the Belt (Southern) Parkway. East of Interstate 678, both directions were built, but they only extend a short distance before culminating at a traffic signal. The rest of the Nassau Expressway, including the portion in Nassau County, is signed as a state highway (New York 878) and has at-grade intersections.

Interstate 878 is not signed, but an NYSDOT reference marker identifies the route as "878I" for the freeway portion around Interstate 678 and the John F. Kennedy Expressway. This is a code to identify Interstate Highways within the New York State Highway System. According to Steve Anderson's excellent site, Interstate 878 shields may have been briefly posted in 1989 when the designation was first confirmed.

The Interstate 878 designation was considered for at least one other route in New York City during the 1960s: the section of the Bruckner Expressway (Interstate 278) between Interstate 895 and Interstate 95. Early 1960s Rand McNally maps of New York City show Interstate 878 on this alignment. At that time, Interstate 278 was planned to turn north on the Sheridan Expressway (Interstate 895) and follow an upgraded U.S. 1/Boston Post Road back to Interstate 95. The plan to convert U.S. 1 into a freeway and the consequent Interstate 278 extension was killed in 1971, along with several other metropolitan expressway proposals.2 For more, visit Steve Anderson's Sheridan Expressway.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - John F. Kennedy International Airport - Queens, New York
Perspective from New York 878/Interstate 878/Nassau Expressway west
Westbound Interstate 878 prepares to end as the freeway splits, with the left lane connecting to New York 27/Conduit Avenue west/Belt Parkway west and the right lane connecting to Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
There is no end shield as Interstate 878/New York 878 end at Interstate 678. The left lane splits off to connect to New York 27/Conduit Avenue and the Belt Parkway west. The right lane connects to northbound Interstate 678. To Interstate 678 south to Kennedy Airpotr, use New York 27 west. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Now on the transition ramp from Interstate 878 west to Interstate 678 north, traffic merges onto the ramp from the westbound Belt Parkway. An exit for 133rd Avenue is provided. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Continuing along the transition ramp, the right lane becomes exit only for 133rd Avenue. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The left two lanes continue onto Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north, while the right lane exits onto 133rd Avenue. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Passing under 133rd Avenue, motorists connecting from westbound Interstate 878/Nassau Expressway and westbound Belt Parkway connect to Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north in a collector-distibutor lane. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Perspective from New York 27/Conduit Avenue east
Eastbound New York 27/Conduit Avenue passes 149th Avenue at this traffic signal. This was to have been part of Interstate 78 had the freeway corridor been built. The Nassau Freeway begins shortly after this intersection. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Shortly thereafter, eastbound New York 27/Conduit Avenue splits, with the right lane connecting to Cross Bay Boulevard. After this exit, New York 27/Conduit Avenue shifts directly onto the Nassau Expressway. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
New York 27 takes on freeway characteristics as it passes under Cross Bay Boulevard. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
After crossing over the Belt Parkway, the nascent Nassau Expressway prepares to split: the left lanes transition onto New York 878/Nassau Expressway west, while the right lanes provide the continuation of New York 27/Conduit Avenue. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Use New York 878/Nassau Expressway east to Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway and John F. Kennedy International Airport. Use New York 27/Conduit Avenue east to the Belt Parkway east and Leiferts Parkway. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
New York 27/Conduit Avenue and New York 878 split at this point, with right lanes following New York 27 and left lanes following New York 878 east. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Perspective from New York 878/Nassau Expressway east
View of the New York 878/Nassau Expressway exit from the Belt Parkway east as seen from the Nassau Expressway lanes. The Belt Parkway and Nassau Expressway generally remain very close to each other. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
A stack interchange between New York 27/Conduit Avenue (lowest level), New York 878/Nassau Expressway (mid-level), and ramp from Belt Parkway east to Nassau Expressway east (top level) comes into view on eastbound New York 878. Evidence of the 1971 construction of the Nassau Expressway is readily evident by the rust on the bridges. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Traffic from the Belt Parkway east merges onto eastbound New York 878/Nassau Expressway. Between the Belt Parkway and Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway, New York 878 follows a one-way freeway alignment: there are no westbound lanes for New York 878 (one must use New York 27/Conduit Avenue westbound or the Belt Parkway instead). Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The first exit along eastbound New York 878/Nassau Expressway is Exits 1S-N, Junction Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway south to John F. Kennedy International Airport, followed by Junction Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north to Queens. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
There are two routes to John F. Kennedy International Airport: Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway south or John F. Kennedy Expressway south. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Eastbound New York 878/Nassau Expressway approaches Exit 1S, Junction Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway south to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Exit 1N, Junction Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Eastbound New York 878/Nassau Expressway reaches Exit 1S, Junction Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway south to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Unsigned Interstate 878 begins as New York 878 meets Interstate 678. The first ramp (Exit 1S) travels south to the airport, and the second ramp (Exit 1N) connects to northbound Interstate 678. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Perspective from New York 878/Interstate 878/Nassau Expressway east
Eastbound New York 878/Nassau Expressway (Interstate 878) reaches Exit 1N, Junction Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The next exits along eastbound New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway are Exit 2S, Junction John F. Kennedy Expressway south to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Exit 2N, Junction New York 27/Conduit Avenue east and Junction Belt Parkway east. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Perspective from Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway south
The last four exits on southbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway are: Exit 2, Rockaway Boulevard; Exit 1W, Junction Belt Parkway (Southern Parkway) west to New York 27/Conduit Avenue west; Exit 1, Junction New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway east; and Exit 1E, Junction Belt Parkway (Southern Parkway) east to New York 27/Conduit Avenue east. This overhead sign assembly is the first to advise of Exits 1W, 1, or 1E. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Southbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway reaches Exit 2, Rockaway Boulevard. The next exit Exit 1W, Junction Belt Parkway west to New York 27/Conduit Avenue west. This sign advises that connections to New York 27/Conduit Avenue are afforded via the Belt Parkway exits (Exits 1W and 1E). Through here, New York 27/Conduit Avenue straddles the Belt Parkway, with the westbound lanes on the north side of the parkway and the eastbound lanes on the south side of the parkway. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
This sign bridge advises of the final three exits: Exit 1W, Junction Belt Parkway west to New York 27/Conduit Avenue west; Exit 1, Junction New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway east; and Exit 1E, Junction Belt Parkway east to New York 27/Conduit Avenue east. Note that the ramps for Exits 1 and 1E are left exits, while the continuation of Interstate 678 into John F. Kennedy International Airport is afforded via the right lane. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Southbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway reaches Exit 1W, Junction Belt Parkway (Southern Parkway) west to New York 27/Conduit Avenue west. Use this exit to follow the Belt Parkway around Brooklyn to meet Interstate 278 at the foot of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Interstate 278 in turn offers a connection to Staten Island and New Jersey via the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Interstate 678 is not the only route into John F. Kennedy International Airport; one may follow New York 878 (Interstate 878) east to the John F. Kennedy Expressway south, which also leads into the airport. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The exit for the Belt Parkway west is a collector-distributor lane; these signs are posted for the continuation of Interstate 678 south to New York 878 and John F. Kennedy International Airport. The right lane of the collector-distributor becomes the exit ramp to westbound Belt Parkway to New York 27/Conduit Avenue. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
While the collector-distributor lanes split between the westbound Belt Parkway and the reconnection to southbound Interstate 678, the main lanes prepare to split as well: the left lane is for Exit 1E, Junction Belt Parkway east; the second lane is for Exit 1E, Junction New York 27/Conduit Avenue east; and the right lane is for Exit 1, Junction New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway east AND the continuation of Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway south. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The commuter rail line, which uses the airspace above Interstate 678, splits away from the freeway to connect to the airport train station. After the rail line shifts to the southwest, the collector-distributor lane merges back onto Interstate 678, offering a fourth lane on the right. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
With an additional lane merging onto southbound Interstate 678 from the right, the right two lanes are signed for the continuation of Interstate 678 south. The left two lanes connect to Exit 1E, Junction Belt Parkway east and Junction New York 27/Conduit Avenue (frontage road) east. The number three lane will connect to either Exit 1, Junction New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway east or to Interstate 678 south. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Southbound Interstate 678 reaches Exit 1, Junction New York 878 (secret Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway and Exit 1E, Junction Belt Parkway (Southern Parkway) and New York 27/Conduit Avenue east. Interstate 678 continues south into John F. Kennedy International Airport. This interchange represents the western terminus of Interstate 878. The Interstate highway is signed as New York 878, and travels to Rockaway Boulevard on the east side of the John F. Kennedy International Airport. In the background sits an elevated train. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Now on the connecting ramp to the Belt Parkway east and New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway east, the right lane connects to New York 878, while the left two lanes lead to the Belt Parkway and New York 27/Conduit Avenue east. Photos taken by AARoads (08/29/05) and Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (06/26/05).
Use Exit 1 to the John F. Kennedy Expressway south to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (06/26/05).
The exit ramp splits, with the left lane leading to New York 27/Conduit Avenue and the right lane connecting to eastbound New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman and Carter Buchanan (06/26/05).
Perspective from Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north
After the final turnaround, signs begin to advise of various New York City destinations and the best route to use to get to that location. The first such sign is this one providing the best route to Midtown Manhattan, which advises using Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north to Interstate 495/Long Island Expressway (LIE) west to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The next such sign advises that motorists en route to Lower Manhattan should use the Belt Parkway west to Interstate 278 east to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (secret Interstate 478). Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
To Staten Island, southern New Jersey, and points west, use the Belt Parkway west to Interstate 278 west to Interstate 95/New Jersey Turnpike. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
To the Bronx and northern New Jersey (George Washington Bridge and Interstate 80), use Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north to the Grand Central Parkway northwest, then follow Interstate 278/Triborough Bridge north to Interstate 87/Major Deegan Expressway north, which connects to Interstate 95/Cross Bronx Expressway west to New Jersey. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
To the Bronx and Connecticut (Interstate 95 north), use Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The last exit before leaving the airport property is the connection to the rotary interchange (known as Federal Circle), which leads to the rail transit station, general aviation, Port Authority administration building, long-term parking, and a final chance to return to the airport easily. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Northbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway meet Federal Circle at the final airport interchange. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Preparing to leave airport property, Interstate 678 shifts from Port Authority maintenance to New York State Department of Transportation maintenance. The first exit along northbound serves both Exit 1, Junction New York 878 (Hidden Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway east and Exit 1E, Junction Belt Parkway (Southern Parkway) east. Use the right lanes for either Exit 1 or Exit 1E. Use the left lanes to continue north on Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport, the overhead sign bridge welcomes motorists to New York City and offers an advertisement (at this point in time, it was for Oracle). Advertising of this nature above or adjacent to Interstate Highways is not very common, but can be found along some of the expressways of New York City. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The first exit on the state-maintained section of northbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway is Exits 1-1E, Junction New York 878/Nassau Expressway (Interstate 878) east and Junction Belt Parkway east to Long Island. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The left three lanes connect to Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway north (with the next exit being Exit 1B, Junction Belt Parkway west). The right two lanes connect to New York 878/Nassau Expressway (Interstate 878) east and Belt Parkway east. Note the "NYC Law: No Turn on Red Except Where Posted" advisory sign and the trailblazers for the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and the Triborough Bridge, both of which point for motorists to follow Interstate 678 north. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Interstate 678 north and New York (Interstate) 878 east split at this gore point. The right lanes will connect to New York 878 first, followed by a direct connection to the Belt Parkway (Southern Parkway) east. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
To New York 27/Conduit Avenue west, use Exit 1B, Junction Belt Parkway west. (It probably should be signed as Exit 1W to be consistent with the southbound exit and with Exit 1E, which was the eastbound exit.) Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The next exit on northbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway serves both Exit 1B, Junction Belt Parkway west and New York 27/Conduit Avenue west and Exit 2, Rockaway Boulevard. The overpass ahead carries the one-way Nassau Expressway (eastbound only) over Interstate 678. The one-way section ends to the east of here; the two-way, freeway section is Interstate 878, while the one-way freeway and two-way surface expressway is New York 878. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Eastern Terminus - North Hangar Road near Springfield Gardens, Queens, New York
Perspective from New York 878/Nassau Expressway east
Traveling east on New York 878/Interstate 878 (Nassau Expressway), the brief Interstate Highway ends almost as soon as it begins. Shortly after the Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway interchange, the next exit is Exit 2S, Junction John F. Kennedy Expressway south to John F. Kennedy International Airport, followed by Exit 2N, Junction New York 27/Conduit Avenue east to the Belt Parkway. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Eastbound New York 878 (Interstate 878)/Nassau Expressway reaches Exit 2N, Junction New York 27/Conduit Avenue east to Belt Parkway east. The freeway continues ahead for about a half-mile before ending at a traffic signal. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The Nassau Expressway will end at Exit 3, which is actually a traffic signal connection with North Hangar Road and North Boundary Road. Interstate 878 ends at that point, but New York 878 continues south and east as Rockaway Boulevard. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
A new right lane is formed by incoming traffic from northbound John F. Kennedy Expressway. This lane connects to Exit 3, North Hangar Road. Adjacent North Boundary Road, which follows the northern airport boundary, can be accessed via North Hangar Road. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
The speed limit continues to drop as the expressway comes to an end at Exit 3. There are no END shields since New York 878 continues straight ahead en route to Rockaway Boulevard. The Nassau Expressway was planned to continue straight as well, following Rockaway Boulevard southeast toward Atlantic Beach. However, the existing facility is multilane, divided highway. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Use Exit 3/North Hangar Road to access JFK International Airport. Continue straight ahead to Nassau County. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
This traffic signal marks the end of Interstate 878. The green guide signs in the distance advise of the junction with Rockaway Boulevard, which is where the Nassau Expressway surface street section ends. New York 878 follows Rockaway Boulevard southeast to Atlantic Beach. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Shortly after the North Hangar Road traffic signal, eastbound New York 878 meets Rockaway Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard. These overheads advise of lane allocations for both roads. New York 878 turns south onto Rockaway Boulevard. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan and Alex Nitzman (06/26/05).
Perspective from northbound North Hangar Road
No New York 878 shields are posted on northbound North Hangar Road. This guide sign advises a left turn onto westbound Nassau Expressway leads to the Van Wyck Expressway (Interstate 678), the Belt Parkway, and Conduit Avenue (New York 27). A right turn leads to Rockaway Boulevard and Farmers Boulevard. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Perspective from New York 878/Rockaway Boulevard north
Traveling north on Rockaway Boulevard, the left lanes connect to the Nassau Expressway west, while the right lanes continue northwest on Rockaway Boulevard. Although New York 878 shields are not used, destinations include John F. Kennedy International Airport, Belt Parkway, and Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan and Alex Nitzman (06/26/05).
Rockaway Boulevard and the Nassau Expressway separate. The expressway has one traffic signal at North Hangar Road, then assumes freeway characteristics. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan and Alex Nitzman (06/26/05).
Perspective from New York 878/Nassau Expressway west
Westbound New York 878/Nassau Expressway approaches its only traffic signal at North Hangar Road, then assumes freeway characteristics shortly thereafter. Photo taken by Carter Buchanan and Alex Nitzman (06/26/05).
Perspective from Interstate 878/New York 878/Nassau Expressway west
After passing through the North Hangar Road traffic signal, New York 878/Interstate 878/Nassau Expressway gains freeway characteristics. There is no access to the John F. Kennedy Expressway, but the westbound lanes provide a connection to the westbound Belt Parkway, westbound New York 27/Conduit Avenue, and northbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway. (Access to Kennedy Airport is provided by using New York 27 west and the loop ramp onto southbound Interstate 678/Van Wyck Expressway.) Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).
Westbound Interstate 878/Nassau Expressway passes under the John F. Kennedy Expressway, which connects the Belt Parkway with the John F. Kennedy International Airport. Almost immediately, New York 878/Interstate 878 prepare to end at Interstate 678 and the Belt Parkway. Photo taken by AARoads (08/29/05).

Sources:

  1. New York 878: Nassau Expressway by Steve Anderson
  2. Sheridan Expressway by Steve Anderson

Page Updated January 28, 2007.

 
Mileage

State New York
Mileage 0.70
Cities New York City
Junctions Interstate 678
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-878 New York Annual Average Daily Traffic

County From: To: AADT Composite
New York 878
Queens Cross Bay Boulevard I-678 Van Wyck Expressway 50,000
Interstate 878
Queens I-678 Van Wyck Expressway 150th Street 38,300
New York 878
Queens 150th Street Farmers Boulevard 48,100
Nassau Farmers Boulevard Bayview Avenue 34,700
Nassau Bayview Avenue Meadow Causeway 24,900
Source: NYSDOT 2002 Traffic Volume Report

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