Map of the New York City area with I-678 highlighted in red
|Maintained by NYSDOT, MTAB&T, and PANYNJ|
|Length||14.33 mi (23.06 km)|
|South end||John F. Kennedy Airport|
|North end||I-95 / I-278 / Hutchinson River Parkway in Throggs Neck|
Interstate 678 (I-678) is a north–south auxiliary Interstate Highway that extends for 14 miles (23 km) through two boroughs of New York City. The route begins at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jamaica Bay and travels north through Queens and across the East River to the Bruckner Interchange in the Bronx, where I-678 ends and the Hutchinson River Parkway begins.
I-678 connects to I-495 (the Long Island Expressway) in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. The highway is known as the Van Wyck Expressway (/væn ˈwaɪk/ van WYKE) from JFK Airport to Northern Boulevard (New York State Route 25A or NY 25A), the Whitestone Expressway from NY 25A north to the Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, and the Hutchinson River Expressway from the bridge to the Bruckner Interchange. North of the interchange, I-678 ends and the roadway continues as the Hutchinson River Parkway.
The portion of I-678 north of NY 25A follows the path of the Whitestone Parkway and a short section of the Hutchinson River Parkway's Bronx extension. The Whitestone Parkway and Hutchinson River Parkway was first opened in 1939, while the Van Wyck Expressway opened in pieces between 1950 and 1953. Both highways were connected to each other and upgraded to meet Interstate Highway standards in the early 1960s. The Hutchinson River and Whitestone Expressways were collectively designated as I-678 c. 1965. The designation was extended southward in 1970 to follow the Van Wyck Expressway to its end at JFK Airport.
I-678 begins at John F. Kennedy International Airport in the borough of Queens. It proceeds along the stretch of highway known as the Van Wyck Expressway. I-678 progresses westward through the airport, crossing under airport taxiways as a six-lane freeway. Just after the taxiways, the expressway connects with North Service Road, which services the airport's western services. From there, the expressway begins to turn northward and crosses the United Airlines hangar. I-678 continues its northwestern path, curving to the northeast at the interchange with Federal Circle. From there, the highway continues northward, becoming a divided highway and meeting NY 878 (the Nassau Expressway) at exit 1E. I-678 continues northward, crossing under the Nassau Expressway and over NY 27 east (South Conduit Avenue) and the Belt Parkway. A short distance later, the highway intersects NY 27 west (North Conduit Avenue) at exit 1B.
North of North Conduit Avenue, AirTrain JFK's elevated people mover structure begins to run above the expressway's median, and the Van Wyck descends to an open-cut structure. At this point, I-678 gains service roads on either side, connecting to local streets. I-678 continues northward along the Van Wyck Expressway through Queens, interchanging with Rockaway Boulevard, Linden Boulevard, Liberty Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue at exits 2 through 5, respectively. Just south of Atlantic Avenue, the AirTrain structure diverges to the east. After entering Jamaica, the Van Wyck crosses under a complex, two-level Long Island Rail Road structure with thirteen tracks.
Continuing northward, the expressway passes the Jamaica Hospital and intersects Jamaica Avenue at exit 6. I-678 expands to eight lanes as it crosses under Hillside Avenue (NY 25B), which is serviced by exit 7 in the southbound direction. A short distance later, the highway approaches a large interchange with NY 25 (Queens Boulevard) and Main Street at exits 8–9. After crossing under Hoover Avenue, I-678 enters the Kew Gardens Interchange, a complex interchange with traffic from five directions. I-678 crosses on overpasses over Union Turnpike, the Grand Central Parkway, the Jackie Robinson Parkway, and different interchange ramps before returning at-grade in Flushing. There, the highway turns northwestward once again, interchanging with Jewel Avenue via Park Drive East at exit 11. Crossing through Flushing Meadows Corona Park, I-678 continues northward until exit 12, where there are ramps to College Point Boulevard and the westbound Long Island Expressway (I-495). After the interchange with the Long Island Expressway, the Van Wyck continues northeastward. A short distance later, the expressway crosses under Roosevelt Avenue and the IRT Flushing Line (7 and <7> trains) of New York City Subway. After crossing Roosevelt Avenue, I-678 passes Citi Field to the west, then intersects NY 25A (Northern Boulevard) via exit 13. At this point, I-678 transitions onto Whitestone Expressway.
The Whitestone Expressway continues northward into College Point, where the service roads resume. I-678 passes over Linden Place, served by exit 14, and continues northeastward past the distribution center of The New York Times to the west. Shortly afterward, I-678's service roads intersect with 20th Avenue in Whitestone, and there are ramps to and from the service roads at exit 15. I-678 passes under 14th Avenue a short distance to the north. Just after 14th Avenue, the left-hand lanes of both directions diverge to exit 16, which continues onto Cross Island Parkway via a left exit. The service roads end at this point.
After the interchange with Cross Island Parkway, the Whitestone Expressway turns to the northwest as a six-lane expressway that passes through Whitestone. After Exit 17, which serves Third Avenue, the expressway passes over Francis Lewis Park and begins its approach onto the Bronx–Whitestone Bridge over the East River. The highway leaves Queens and enters the Bronx along the bridge. The bridge descends to ground level and I-678 passes through an open-road toll gantry, which is located at the former site of a tollbooth. Afterwards, the expressway intersects Lafayette Avenue. North of Lafayette Avenue is the Bruckner Interchange, where I-678's designation ends and the highway continues northward as the Hutchinson River Parkway.
In 1936, Governor Herbert H. Lehman signed a bill that authorized the construction of the Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, which would connect Queens and the Bronx. At its north end, the Bronx–Whitestone Bridge would connect to Eastern Boulevard (later known as Bruckner Boulevard) via the Hutchinson River Parkway. At its south end, the bridge would connect to a new Whitestone Parkway, which led southwest off the bridge to Northern Boulevard. Plans for the bridge were completed by February 1937, at which time the state started issuing bonds to fund bridge construction. The right-of-way for the Whitestone Bridge and Parkway was legally designated in July 1937.
The Whitestone Bridge and Parkway both opened on April 29, 1939. Construction on the bridge and parkway had been accelerated in preparation for the 1939 New York World's Fair, which opened one day after the Whitestone Bridge and Parkway. The new highway was intended as a major thoroughfare to the World's Fair, which was hosted in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, near the Whitestone Parkway's southern end.
In December 1957, the state approved a $9.5 million project to widen a 2.1-mile (3.4 km) segment of Whitestone Parkway from Northern Boulevard to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, build a new bridge over the Flushing River, and improve the parkway to Interstate Highway standards using funds from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1952, in which the federal government would pay 90% of the proposed highway's cost. At the time, the parkway hosted two lanes in each direction, and the design process for such an upgrade was nearing completion. The head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, Robert Moses, stated that the upgrade could start in 1960. At the time of the announcement, the junction with Northern Boulevard was heavily congested because motorists used local streets to connect to the Grand Central Parkway, located opposite Flushing Meadows Park from the Whitestone Parkway. Flushing Meadows Park was subsequently selected to host the 1964 New York World's Fair. In early 1960, the state announced that work on the project would start that year. The project would be one of three highway upgrades for the World's Fair. The city approved the $10 million upgrade project in May 1960, and contracts for the upgrade were awarded in September 1962. The portion of the Hutchinson River Parkway south of Bruckner Boulevard and all of the Whitestone Parkway were converted to interstate standards. The Whitestone Parkway was subsequently renamed the Whitestone Expressway, and the aforementioned segment of the Hutchinson River Parkway was renamed the Hutchinson River Expressway.
Van Wyck Expressway
In the 1940s, Moses proposed the construction of a system of highways that would traverse the New York City area. The plan was to cost $800 million, and in 1945, the city agreed to pay $60 million of that cost. Among them was the Van Wyck Expressway, which would stretch from New York (now John F. Kennedy) International Airport in the south to Queens Boulevard in the north. The six-lane expressway was to be built along the path of what was then Van Wyck Boulevard. The original street and the freeway were both named after former New York City Mayor Robert Anderson Van Wyck, but the pronunciation of "Wyck" was heavily disputed: depending on the person, "Wyck" could rhyme with either "lick" or "like".
In 1946, the city started evicting or relocating people who lived in the proposed expressway's right-of-way. Ultimately, 263 households had to be relocated. One 4-story apartment building, which housed 35 families, was placed on metal rollers and relocated away from the expressway's path. Normally, new houses would have been built for these families, but in this case, there was not enough land area to build individual homes for these families.
The section of Van Wyck Expressway between Queens Boulevard and the airport opened in October 1950. A northern extension to Grand Central Parkway was opened in 1953. This section of the expressway originally functioned as a connector between Grand Central and the airport. In mid-1961, it was revealed that the Van Wyck Expressway would be extended northward to meet the Whitestone Expressway at NY 25A for the 1964 World's Fair. Work on the Van Wyck Expressway Extension, as it was originally known, began in December 1961 and was completed by 1963. The I-678 designation was extended southward over the Van Wyck Expressway to JFK Airport on January 1, 1970.
The Whitestone and Hutchinson River Expressways were designated as I-678 c. 1965. While designated as a three-digit auxiliary Interstate Highway, I-678 never intersects with its ostensible "parent" interstate, I-78. Originally, I-78 would have continued eastward through New York City from its current terminus at the Holland Tunnel along the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway and over the Williamsburg Bridge to Queens, where it would have followed the Bushwick Expressway past the southern end of the Van Wyck Expressway to Laurelton. From here, I-78 would have continued northward onto an extended Clearview Expressway and to the Bronx. Early plans for I-678 had the highway following the Astoria Expressway, a proposed freeway that would run along the NY 25A corridor from I-278 to the Grand Central Parkway. These plans were mostly canceled by the late 1960s, leading to the truncation of I-78 to the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway (I-278) on January 1, 1970. In March 1971, Governor Nelson Rockefeller revealed a plan for improving New York City highways. The plan denied funding to several proposed New York City Interstate Highways, including the Astoria Expressway. Rockefeller said that these highways did not qualify for a funding agreement from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1952. The New York Times quoted a state official who said that this move had the effect of canceling these projects. I-78 currently ends at the east portal of the Holland Tunnel.
In early 1988, both directions of the Whitestone Expressway near Northern Boulevard were temporarily closed because several girders in the southbound viaduct had corroded to the point that a structural failure was imminent. This part of the Whitestone Expressway, as well as the Van Wyck Expressway from Fowler Avenue south to the Long Island Expressway, were renovated in the mid-1990s. Starting in 2003, the northbound lanes of the Whitestone Expressway near Northern Boulevard were renovated. The project involved replacing a bascule bridge that had been at the location since the original parkway had opened in 1939; creating two U-turn ramps; and creating a new exit ramp from eastbound Northern Boulevard to Linden Place. Previously, traffic from Northern Boulevard had to cross over three lanes of northbound traffic from the Van Wyck Expressway.
The Jamaica Branch of the AirTrain JFK people mover system was built within the median of the Van Wyck from Atlantic Avenue to the Belt Parkway. Construction started in May 1998.:22 The fact that the Jamaica branch had to be built in the middle of the Van Wyck Expressway, combined with the varying length and curves of the track spans, caused complications during construction. One lane in each direction was closed during the off-peak hours, causing congestion on the Van Wyck.:22 The AirTrain's guideways above the Van Wyck were completed in August 2001. The system opened in December 2003.
Further to the north, a $286 million renovation of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge started in August 2001. The project replaced the bridge's span, among other things. The Queens and Bronx approaches were replaced in a project that started in 2008 and ended in 2015.
In early 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that as part of his plan to improve JFK Airport, two traffic bottlenecks along I-678 near the airport would be removed. At the Kew Gardens Interchange, the two-lane ramps between the Grand Central Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway would be upgraded to three lanes in each direction. South of the interchange, the expressway will be expanded from three lanes to four lanes in each direction, with the new lanes being used as either HOV lanes or bus lanes. These projects, combined, would cost $1.5–2 billion. In October 2018, Cuomo released details of his $13 billion plan to rebuild passenger facilities and approaches to JFK Airport. The plan included widened ramps in Kew Gardens and a fourth vehicle lane on the Van Wyck Expressway south of Kew Gardens. In addition, northbound exit 5 at Atlantic Avenue and southbound exit 4 at Liberty Avenue would be permanently closed, as these junctions are near each other. If the proposal is approved, construction is expected to begin in spring 2020 and would be completed three years later.
|Queens||JFK Airport||0.00||0.00||–||John F. Kennedy International Airport||Southern terminus|
|0.30||0.48||A||U-Turn / Port Authority Police|
|1.10||1.77||B||Cell Phone Lot / General Aviation / Port Authority Administration||Southbound exit only|
|1.40||2.25||C||Long Term Parking / Rental Cars / Cargo Areas|
|South Ozone Park||1.70–|
|1||NY 878 east (Nassau Expressway)||Exit 1 on NY 878|
|Belt Parkway / NY 27 – Eastern Long Island, Brooklyn, Verrazano Bridge||Signed as exits 1E (east) and 1W (west); exit 19 on Belt Parkway|
|2.66||4.28||2||Rockaway Boulevard||Signed with exit 1 northbound|
|Richmond Hill||4.37||7.03||5||Atlantic Avenue|
|4.76||7.66||6||Jamaica Avenue / Hillside Avenue|
|Kew Gardens||5.00||8.05||8||Main Street / Union Turnpike||No southbound exit to eastbound Union Turnpike|
|5.34||8.59||9||NY 25 west (Queens Boulevard)||Northbound exit and southbound entrance; southbound exit is via exit 8|
|5.87||9.45||10||Grand Central Parkway west – LaGuardia Airport, RFK Bridge||Northbound exit and southbound entrance; exit 13S on G. C. Parkway; no commercial vehicles|
|5.90||9.50||7||Jackie Robinson Parkway west – Brooklyn||Southbound exit and northbound entrance; exit 7 on J. Robinson Parkway; no commercial vehicles|
|Flushing Meadows–Corona Park||6.20–|
|11||69th Road / Jewel Avenue – Flushing Meadows–Corona Park|
|12||I-495 (Long Island Expressway) / College Point Boulevard – Eastern Long Island, Manhattan, Midtown Tunnel||Signed as exits 12A (east) and 12B (west); exits 22C–D on I-495 eastbound only; exit 22B on I-495 westbound only|
|13||Grand Central Parkway / NY 25A (Northern Boulevard) / Astoria Boulevard – Eastern Long Island, LaGuardia Airport, RFK Bridge, Citi Field, Marina||Signed southbound as exit 13A (Astoria Boulevard), 13B (Parkway east), 13C (Parkway west), and 13D (NY 25A west); no southbound access to NY 25A east|
|Flushing Creek||Bridge (northern terminus of Van Wyck Expressway, southern terminus of Whitestone Expressway)|
|10.80||17.38||15||14th Avenue / 20th Avenue|
|Whitestone||11.30||18.19||16||Cross Island Parkway south – Eastern Long Island||Northern terminus and exit 36 on Cross Island Parkway; no commercial vehicles|
|11.60||18.67||17||3rd Avenue||No southbound exit|
|Bronx–Whitestone Bridge (toll)|
|The Bronx||Throggs Neck||13.60||21.89||18||Lafayette Avenue – Ferry Point Park|
|19N||I-95 north – New Haven, CT||Northbound exit and southbound entrance; exit 6A on I-95|
|19S-W||I-95 south / I-278 west – George Washington Bridge, Trenton, NJ, RFK Bridge, Manhattan||Northbound exit and southbound entrance; other movements via Hutchinson Parkway exit 1; eastern terminus of I-278|
|–||Hutchinson River Parkway north – New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers||Continuation beyond Bruckner Interchange; no commercial vehicles|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
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- Interstate 678 at Alps' Roads • New York Routes
- Interstate 678 at interstate-guide.com
- Van Wyck Expressway: Historic Overview
- I-678 (Greater New York Roads)