Traveling through the Hamptons on eastern Long Island, Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway [LIE]) takes on a rural feel with fewer trappings of urban society than the west end of the route in Manhattan. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Interstate 495 in New York is the Long Island Expressway, or the L.I.E. to locals, is considered to be the backbone of Long Island. Built in segments over many years, the last section was completed between Exit 71 (eastern New York 24) and Exit 73 in the early 1970s after being under construction for about 15 years.
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.1
Governor Hugh L. Carey and Mayor Edward I. Kock jointly requested the withdrawl of a 4.7-mile section of the LIE from the Interstate System on January 4, 1979 based on the elevated additional lanes. Secretary Brock Adams approved the withdrawl 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.
There had been talk of extending the L.I.E. along Long Island's North Fork and possibly even across Long Island Sound to New London, Connecticut, or Watch Hill, Rhode Island, but that has been very controversial. Previous efforts to plan and construct such a link have failed because of local efforts to preserve the rural character of Long Island's East End. However, talks of such a link resurface occasionally.
When originally commissioned, Interstate 495 was to begin at Interstate 95 in New Jersey, enter New York via the Lincoln Tunnel cross Manhattan, and terminate at what was to be Interstate 78 (the Clearview Expressway). However, the cross-Manhattan route (Mid-Manhattan Expressway) was never constructed, and the part of the Clearview Expressway that was constructed is today designated as Interstate 295. Interstate 78 today ends in Lower Manhattan, as it was not extended across Manhattan either.
Prior to 1983, the L.I.E. east of Exit 27 (Interstate 295 - Clearview Expressway) was signed as New York 495. However, in 1983, the New York Congressional legislation led by then-Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) passed legislation extending Interstate 495 east from the Interstate 295 interchange to the end of the L.I.E. The same number (495) was kept for continuity, even though an odd first digit would be more appropriate under the original numbering scheme for all Interstate highways (Interstate 495 does not end at another Interstate on the east end). Since that time, other extensions have resulted in first-digit even Interstate spurs, including Interstate 264 in Virginia and Interstate 635 in Texas. AASHTO approved the extension at their meeting on May 23, 1984.
Western Terminus - Queens-Midtown Tunnel - Astoria, Queens
Perspective from Interstate 495 west
West Interstate 495 overhead for the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and Manhattan on Interstate 495 westbound. The tubes deposit westbound motorists onto 34th and 39th Streets near Midtown Manhattan. The tunnel itself skims the southern boundary of the United Nations complex. Photo taken by Jim K. Georges (7/98).
Perspective from FDR Drive south
Old button copy signs still acknowledging the Queens-Midtown Tunnel (New York 495) as Interstate 495 on FDR Drive Southbound. This is the historic Western terminus of Interstate 495 now. Photo taken by Kevin Lagasse (5/27/01).
Perspective from East 34th Street
Signage for the entrance to the Queens/ Midtown Tunnel from E. 34th street in Manhattan. The tunnel entrance itself is just two blocks to the north. Entrance connections are also in place via 39th Street. Photo taken by Kevin Lagasse (5/27/01).
Perspective from Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expresway east (north)
While Interstate 495 does not end at Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway, it is fully signed as an Interstate in both directions. The Kosciuszko Bridge (through truss bridge) appears in the distance. Photo taken 06/13/05.
The right two lanes of eastbound Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway connect to Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway [LIE]). Use Interstate 495 east to Long Island and west to Manhattan via the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Eastbound Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway reaches Exit 35, Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway [LIE]). The ramp provides a two-lane connection to Interstate 495. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Now on the transition ramp from eastbound Interstate 278/Brooklyn Queens Expressway to Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway [LIE]), the left lane connects to westbound Interstate 495 to Manhattan, while the right lanes connect to eastbound Interstate 495. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Eastern Terminus - Suffolk County Route 58 - near Riverhead
Perspective from Interstate 495 east
Interstate 495 sees its final two exits on this sign bridge. Exit 72 serves New York 25, six miles west of the Suffolk County seat of Riverhead. The left-hand panel for Exit 73 indicates that the freeway comes to an end in three-fourths of a mile. On the county pentagon shield, note the small word SUFFOLK written below the large 58 digits. Photo taken 06/13/05.
All traffic must exit in one-half mile. The penultimate interchange with New York 25 is visible ahead. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Eastbound Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway) reaches Exit 72, New York 25 to Riverton and Calverton. Photo taken 06/13/05.
The left lanes will connect to Suffolk County Route 58, while the right lane provides the connection to New York 25 east and west. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Upon exiting at New York 25, a ramp leads to eastbound to Riverhead and a second ramp connects to westbound New York 25 en route to Calverton. Continuing east, all through traffic on Interstate 495 is forced to exit onto Suffolk County Route 58. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Suffolk County Route 58 overhead (Exit 73) at the eastern terminus of Interstate 495. County 58 acts as a northern bypass to New York 25 and Riverhead, thus carrying the New York 25 peninsula control points of Greenport and Orient. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Continuing eastward on the Interstate 495 transition ramp to Suffolk County 58. A concrete stub is present to the left (note the concrete lines in the pavement, which do not follow the direction of the off-ramp). It is unclear as to where the Long Island Expressway was to end based upon this clear remnant of greater plans. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Perspective from Suffolk County Route 58 (Old Country Road) east
After exiting Interstate 495, traffic merges directly onto eastbound Suffolk County Route 58/Old Country Road. This traffic signal is located near Tanger Factory Outlet Center. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Perspective from Suffolk County Route 58 (Old Country Road) west
Suffolk County Route 58/Old Country Road west at the ramp to the westbound beginning of Interstate 495. The ramp is a loop ramp, and the overpass carries traffic from Suffolk County Route 58 west to Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway) west. Traffic continuing on Suffolk County Route 58 will meet New York 25 in a short distance. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Westbound Suffolk County Route 58 westbound splits at this point, with the right lane connecting to Interstate 495 west. Photo taken 06/13/05.
A unique ENTRANCE WEST Interstate 495 shield assembly is posted at the gore point from westbound Suffolk County Route 58/Old Country Road. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Perspective from Interstate 495 west
Crossing over Suffolk County Route 58 (Old Country Road), westbound Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway) immediately assumes a three-lane configuration (plus an acceleration lane), even though only one lane connects the county route with the Interstate. A stub end is present behind here, offering further evidence of a future eastern extension of Interstate 495 could be accommodated. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Shortly thereafter, westbound Interstate 495 passes under New York 25. There is no access from Interstate 495 west to New York 25. Photo taken 06/13/05.
Perspective from Tanger Factory Outlet Center
These New York 25, Suffolk County Route 58, and Interstate 495 shields are located at the Tanger Factory Outlet, which is located at the eastern terminus of Interstate 495. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (06/00).