Interstate 478 New York


Interstate 478 is a short spur route from Interstate 278 north to the southern tip of Manhattan via the Hugh L. Carey (Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnel. This freeway is not signed as an Interstate highway, but it is listed on the federal rolls as Interstate 478.

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 08/09/04.


The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened to traffic on May 25, 19502 as the longest continuous underway vehicular tunnel in North America. The crossing took ten years to build.3 The tunnel was renamed on October 22, 2012 after the Brooklyn native, former Congressman and New York Governor (1975-82), Hugh L. Carey.2

Interstate 478 originally extended north as far as mid-town Manhattan along the former elevated West Side Highway. The West Side Highway closed on December 16, 1973 from the Battery north to West 46th Street due to structural deficiencies and a collapse of a 60 foot section at Gansevoort Street. The remainder closer afterwards to West 57th Street, with a temporary roadway built along West Street and 12th Avenue. Demolition of the elevated West Side Highway took place between 1977 and 1989.1 The route was dropped as an Interstate highway as approved by AASHTO on November 8, 1986.

A replacement of the West Side Highway was approved in May 1993. The new roadway was constructed as a surface boulevard from April 1996 to August 2001 and signed as New York 9A.1

A previous routing of Interstate 478 was proposed across the Manhattan Bridge. The Manhattan Bridge, a suspension bridge built between 1901 and 1909, spans the East River between Canal Street in Lower Manhattan and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. The span was proposed as part of an I-478 route between the planned Lower Manhattan Expressway (I-78) and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (I-278). The Lower Manhattan Expressway was dropped in 1971, with I-478 redesignated on the proposed and later scuttled Westway.1

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 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 08/09/04.
A two-lane transition ramp connects southbound Interstate 478 with northbound (eastbound) Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Photo taken 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 continuing eastward along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queensboro Bridges await. Photo taken 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 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 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 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 off-ramp (Exit 27, Atlantic Avenue). Photo taken 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 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 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 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 05/99.
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 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 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 05/99.
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 05/99.


  1. West Side (Joe DiMaggio) Highway,
  2. "Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel Renamed After Late Gov. Hugh Carey." CBS New York, October 22, 2012.
  3. Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (formerly Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel).

Page Updated May 21, 2015.

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