Eastern New York’s main north-south highway, Interstate 87 runs nearly the height of the state from New York City to the Canadian border at Rouses Point. Three distinct sections carry I-87 shields in the state. The interstate follows the Major Deegan Expressway from the Triboro (RFK) Bridge in New York City northward to the Westchester County line and beginning of the New York Thruway. The toll road doubles as Interstate 87 between New York City and Albany (the Capital District), serving Newburgh, New Paltz, Kingston and Catskill along the way. Northward from Albany to the International Border, Interstate 87 follows the Adirondack Northway. The Northway serves Adirondack Park, the North Country and traffic bound for Montreal, Quebec via Autoroute 15.
Exit numbers along the three sections of Interstate 87 are sequential, each with its own numbering system:
- Major Deegan Expressway – Exit 1 (I-278) through 14 (McLean Avenue)
- New York Thruway – Exits 1 (Hall Place) through 24 (Northway and I-90 east)
- Adirondack Northway – Exits 1N/S (Western Avenue / I-87 North) through 43 (U.S. 9 / Champlain)
Interstate 87 has three branch routes: Interstates 287, 587 and 787. Unused numbers presently were originally laid out as follows:
- Interstate 187 – preliminary number applied to the Westchester Expressway from the New York Thruway east to White Plains in 1958. Renumbered to I-487.8
- Interstate 387 – preliminary number applied to the New York Thruway from Elmsford west to Suffern in 1958. Renumbered as part of I-287.8
- Interstate 487 – designation for the Cross-West Chester Expressway. Renumbered as part of Interstate 287 in 1961.
- Interstate 687 – unconstructed loop linking I-90 at Corporate Woods Boulevard with I-87 (Northway) near Albany International Airport (ALB).
High Priority Corridor
Interstate 87 in its entirety is part of High Priority Corridor 47: Interstate 87.
Parallel U.S. Routes
With the exception of the South Bronx in New York City, Interstate 87 follows U.S. 9 for its entire length.
The mainline of the New York Thruway was opened to traffic in stages between 1954 and 1957. Opening dates of Interstate 87 from south to north:2
- New York City to Yonkers (3 miles) – August 31, 1956
- Yonkers to Suffern (27 miles) – December 15, 1955
- Suffern to Hillburn (1 mile) – July 1, 1955
- Hillburn to Harriman (14 miles) – May 27, 1955
- Harriman to Newburgh (15 miles) – December 22, 1954
- Newburgh to Albany (88 miles) – October 26, 1954
The Adirondack Northway section of Interstate 87, which is the toll free section from Albany north to the International Border with Quebec, Canada, began construction in 1957. A ten mile stretch opened on May 26, 1961 from U.S. 9 southwest of Glens Falls to Gurney Lane (Exit 20) to the north of Glens Falls. This portion joined the previously opened sections stretching 15 miles between Albany and Clifton Park and the nine mile bypass around Plattsburgh.4 The entire 176-mile Northway was completed and opened to traffic on August 30, 1967 at a cost of $208 million.3,5
North End – Champlain, NY
South End – Bronx, New York City, NY
Branch Routes – 3
Mileage – 333.49
Cities – New York City, Newburgh, Kingston, Albany, Saratoga Springs, Glenn Falls, Plattsburgh
Junctions – Berkshire Connector
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-87 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|Tappan Zee Bridge, NY||137,800|
|Saratoga Springs, NY||59,300|
|Glens Falls, NY||45,900|
Source: NYSDOT 2002 Traffic Volume Report
Portions of Interstate 84 and 684 were opened to traffic by 1967 when both served as the mainline of I-87 between White Plains and Newburgh.
Interstate 87 was completed north from the Plattsburgh bypass to Canada and south from New York 9N near Lake George to Albany in 1963.
The path of the Northway was debated and included discussion about whether to route it east or west of Saratoga Springs and whether to shift it east away from Adirondack Park toward the Vermont state line among other proposals. Three possibilities made it into final consideration:5
- Routing I-87 northeastward from Albany to Whitehall and Ticonderoga and westward to the current Northway within the Town of Elizabethtown near New Russia. This alignment would have completely avoided Adirondack Park.
- Routing I-87 northward through the Schroon River Valley and along the west side of Schroon Lake.
- Routing I-87 north from Saratoga Springs to Lake George via the Town of Queensbury and then shifting slightly west to the west side of Schroon Lake.
The options through Adirondack Park spurned opposition and the formation of a citizens group, Citizens’ Northway Committee, in 1958, which advocated redirecting the Northway around the park. They supported an eastern route through the Champlain Valley, with I-87 staying east of its current route from Ticonderoga to Crown Point, Port Henry and Westport to Keeseville. Ultimately the path of I-87 was decided with public input and a state constitutional amendment passed in 1959.5
Interstate 87 did not follow the entire New York Thruway mainline, including the Tappan Zee Bridge, from Elmsford to Newburgh until 1969. The 1968 Highway Act included legislation that shifted I-87 west onto the New York Thruway. The Interstate was previously routed along the Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287) between Elmsford and White Plains, the present alignment of I-684 northward from White Plains to Brewster, and an overlap with I-84 west from Brewster to Newburgh. FHWA approved this relocation on September 11, 1969, followed by AASHTO on October 26, 1969. The same AASHTO meeting included the establishment of Interstate 684.
A $19.8 million project started in April 2014 replaced the U.S. 11 overpass at Exit 42 and reconstructed a nearly two mile section of Interstate 87 at Champlain in Clinton County. Construction also reconfigured the exchange into a dumbbell interchange. Work ran through late fall 2015.10
Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
Until 2017, Interstates 87 & 287 crossed the Hudson River on the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. The cantilevered bridge between South Nyack and Tarrytown opened to traffic on December 15, 1955 as part of the New York Thruway mainline between Rockland and Westchester Counties. The crossing accommodated six overall lanes until the mid-1980s, when a narrow asphalt median was removed to allow for a seventh travel lane.6
The concept of replacing the aging Tappan Zee Bridge arose in 2000 after a recommendation by a state task force. It would take another decade however for the replacement to gain backing, and it did by October 2011, leading to a $3.1-billion design and contractor selection by a state review panel and the Thruway Authority.6
The notice to proceed on the new bridge occurred in January 2013, with test piles erected starting in July 2013. Construction on the bridge approaches began in March 2014, with main superstructure work following in June 2014. Dedicated to former New York Governor Mario N. Cuomo, the cabled stayed bridge opened to northbound traffic following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on August 24, 2017. Southbound traffic shifted to the new span on October 6, 2017. The bridge will handle two-way traffic until completion of the second bridge, anticipated for April 2018. Total costs for the new bridge top out at $3.9-billion.7 For more information, please see The New NY Bridge web site.
This river shot from main navigation channel shows our towers are already higher than existing, will rise to 419 ft pic.twitter.com/vgTbTbAkG0
— The New NY Bridge (@NewNYBridge) July 8, 2016
The first of the 40-foot-long girders were placed in early July 2016 over the four crossbeams which join together the eight towers on the new bridge. 192 cables support the girders and road deck over the main span. They tie into the 419 foot signature towers of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The towers top out at 100 feet taller than the former Tappan Zee Bridge.9
North End – Canadian International Border – Champlain, New York
South End – Bronx, New York City, New York
- Triboro information courtesy of Bill Mitchell.
- New York Thruway Factbook
- Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System: Previous Interstate Facts of the Day by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
- “Governor to Cut Ribbon on Northway Link.” The Warrensburg News, May 25, 1961.
- “A few facts, controversies, and quirks from the Northway’s history.” All Over Albany, May 27, 2015.
- Tappan Zee Bridge,
http://tappanzeebridge.lohud.com/The Journal News.
- About the Project – The New NY Bridge, project web site.
- Interstate system route numbering web site
http://www.nwindianahwys.homestead.com/INTER_MAIN.HTML, Stephen Summers.
- “Tappan Zee Bridge: Girders, road deck installed.” LOHUD.com, The Journal News, July 8, 2016.
- “NYSDOT Starts Work on US Route 11 Bridge Replacement.” New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), press release. April 25, 2014.
Page updated October 11, 2017.