Interstate 495 New York
Interstate 495 in New York is the Long Island Expressway, or the L.I.E. to locals. Per the Official Description of Highway Touring Routes, etc. in New York State,1 I-495 exists in two portions: from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel to I-278 (Brooklyn Queens Expressway [BQE]) and from I-678 (Van Wyck Expressway) east to New York 25 at Riverhead. The portion of the LIE in between is referenced as New York 495.
The Long Island Expressway between the BQE and Van Wyck Expressway was constructed with six overall lanes without Interstate Construction (IC) funding. It was added to the Interstate System in September 1955. Additional lanes were approved for the route by FHWA in 1963. This entailed a ten-lane concept, with four elevated lanes above the six-lane mainline as adopted in the 1968 Interstate Cost Estimate.2
Governor Hugh L. Carey and Mayor Edward I. Kock jointly requested the withdrawal of a 4.7-mile section of the LIE from the Interstate System on January 4, 1979 based on the additional elevated lanes. Secretary Brock Adams approved the withdrawal on June 29, 1979, reducing the unobligated balance of IC funds of New York by $14.5-million.1
Despite the official mileage for Interstate 495 not including the portion of the LIE between the BQE and Van Wyck, I-495 is fully signed along the entire length of the Long Island Expressway.
When first designated, Interstate 495 originated from I-95 in Secaucus, New Jersey and extended east into Midtown Manhattan via the tolled Lincoln Tunnel. Following the planned Mid Manhattan Expressway, I-495 was to connect with the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and the Long Island Expressway east to the Clearview Expressway (I-78 at the time). A controversial roadway, the Mid Manhattan Expressway was never built, leaving I-495 as a discontinuous route between Union City, New Jersey and Queens, New York. The portion from the Lincoln Highway west was subsequently decommissioned as an Interstate.
East End – Riverhead, NY
West End – New York, NY
Mileage – 66.38
Cities – New York City, Albertson, Jericho, Plainview, Melville, Hauppauge, Ronkonkoma, Islip, Holbrook
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-495 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|Queens Midtown Tunnel||74,800|
Source: NYSDOT 2002 Traffic Volume Report
The last section of I-495 opened to traffic was the segment between Exit 71 (eastern New York 24) and Exit 73. Finished in the early 1970s, construction took about 15 years to complete. Prior to 1983, the Long Island Expressway east of Exit 27 (Clearview Expressway) was signed as New York State Route 495. The New York Congressional legislation led by then-Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) passed legislation at that time extending Interstate 495 east from the interchange with I-295 (Clearview Expressway) to the end of the expressway at Riverhead. AASHTO approved the extension at the meeting on May 23, 1984.
There was also occasional discussion of extending the Long Island Expressway along the North Fork of Long Island, and possibly even across Long Island Sound to New London, Connecticut, or Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Proving to be very controversial, those efforts to plan and construct such a link failed to gain traction due to local efforts to preserve the rural character of Long Island’s East End.
East End – Riverhead, New York
West End – Queens-Midtown Tunnel – Astoria, Queens, New York
- “The Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways,” Part V – Interstate Withdrawal-Substitution Program.
Page updated May 21, 2015.