Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway) advances east from Elmhurst in Queens to 108th Street at Corona and Grand Central Parkway and I-678 (Van Wyck Expressway) at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. 12/17/17
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 is a split route from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel to I-278 (Brooklyn Queens Expressway [BQE]) and from I-678 (Van Wyck Expressway) east to New York Route 25 at Riverhead. The portion of the LIE in between is referenced as New York Route 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 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 1963. This outlined 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. Koch jointly requested the withdrawal of a 4.7 mile long 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 proposed in New York, Interstate 495 extended east from the Lincoln Tunnel across the Hudson River into Midtown Manhattan in New York City. Following the planned Mid Manhattan Expressway, I-495 was to connect with the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and continue east along the Queens Midtown Expressway and Horace Harding Expressway to the Clearview Expressway (I-78) in Queens, New York. I-495 would then turn northward along the Clearview Expressway and over the Throgs Neck Bridge. I-495 would split into branches along the Throgs Neck Expressway north to I-95 (New England Thruway) and the Cross Bronx Expressway Extension west to I-95 (Cross Bronx Expressway) at the exchange with I-278 (Bruckner Expressway) and I-595 (Hutchinson River Expressway.
I-495 was part of the urban Interstate numerology for New York submitted approved by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) on November 10, 1958. The New Jersey State Highway Department previously submitted I-195 as the designation for the route leading east to the Lincoln Tunnel before concurring with the AASHO recommendation for a continuous I-495. The State of New York reviewed changes made by the AASHO route numbering and amended Interstate 78 to replace I-495 northward from the Horace Harding Expressway. AASHO concurred with this change on February 5, 1959.
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 I-495 designation was deleted west of I-278 (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) to the Lincoln Tunnel by the AASHO U.S. Route Numbering Subcommittee on June 23, 1969.
The last section of I-495 opened to traffic was the segment between Exit 71 (eastern NY 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 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.