Interstate 78 in New York
|Maintained by PANYNJ|
|Length:||0.90 mi (1.45 km)|
|Existed:||1978 – present|
|West end:||I-78 / Route 139 in Jersey City, NJ|
|East end:||Canal Street in Lower Manhattan|
Interstate 78 (I-78) is a part of the Interstate Highway System that runs from Union Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, to New York City. The portion of I-78 within the U.S. state of New York is just 0.90 miles (1.45 km) long as it crosses the Hudson River from New Jersey via the Holland Tunnel and ends at the tunnel plaza in Lower Manhattan. Therefore the entire route is maintained by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. However, a much longer route was once planned, heading east via the Williamsburg Bridge to the John F. Kennedy International Airport and then north over the Throgs Neck Bridge to I-95 in the Bronx. The parts of this that were built are now New York State Route 878 (NY 878) and I-295.
The Holland Tunnel consists of two one-way two-lane tunnels. The entrance plaza to the westbound tunnel is a rectangular block bounded by Broome, Varick, Watts, and Hudson streets, with four entrances feeding into the tunnel from all directions, including one from Canal Street. The westbound portal is to the north, just south of Dominick Street. The exit plaza is in the square double block that originally housed the New York Central Railroad's St. John's Park Terminal, bounded by Laight, Varick, Beach, and Hudson streets. Traffic leaves the tunnel at a portal at the southeast corner of Canal and Hudson streets, and heads southeast along the south line of Canal Street and south along the west line of Varick Street to the northeast corner of the plaza. Five exits, numbered 1 to 5, can be taken from the almost-circular roadway, one to each corner and one to the middle of the east side (Varick Street). A pedestrian overpass crosses the entrance to the plaza and exit 5 at the northeast corner, since the entrance from the tunnel cuts Laight Street.
There are four auxiliary routes of I-78, all entering New York, and none connecting with I-78 (because of unbuilt parts of I-78, I-278, and I-478). I-278 begins in Linden, New Jersey, and passes through all five boroughs to end at the Bruckner Interchange in the Bronx; it was proposed to continue west to I-78 in Springfield. The original alignment of I-278 was to end at I-95 in the northeastern Bronx, and is now partially I-895. I-478 is currently the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel and approaches, connecting I-278 in Brooklyn with the Battery in Manhattan; it was once planned to continue north along the unbuilt Westway to I-78 at the Holland Tunnel. I-478 was originally assigned to the Manhattan Bridge and a branch of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, connecting I-78 in Manhattan with I-278 in Brooklyn. I-678 runs from the John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens north to the Bruckner Interchange; its original planned south end was at I-278 in northwestern Queens. I-878, signed as part of NY 878, is a short east–west route crossing I-678 at the JFK Airport; it was originally planned to continue west across Brooklyn to I-278 in the southwest part of the borough. The original I-878 is now I-278 east of I-895, and connected I-278 with I-78, I-95, and I-678.
When the Interstate numbering was finalized in the late 1950s, the Harrisburg-New York City route, I-78, was assigned to several proposed roads in New York City. It would leave the Holland Tunnel onto the Lower Manhattan Expressway, crossing the East River on the Williamsburg Bridge and following the Bushwick Expressway across Brooklyn to near the John F. Kennedy International Airport. There it would follow the Nassau Expressway along the north boundary of the airport and turn north along the Clearview Expressway through Queens, crossing the East River again on the Throgs Neck Bridge into the Bronx. Finally, I-78 would split into two branches, one heading west along the Cross Bronx Expressway to the Bruckner Interchange and the other heading northwest along the Throgs Neck Expressway to the Bruckner Expressway near the south end of the New England Thruway. Other Interstates junctioned would be I-478 (Manhattan Bridge) in Manhattan, I-278 (Brooklyn–Queens Expressway) in Brooklyn, I-495 (Long Island Expressway) in Queens, and Interstates 95 (Cross Bronx and Bruckner Expressways), 678 (Whitestone Bridge), and 878 (Bruckner Expressway) in the Bronx.
When the Throgs Neck Bridge and approaches opened in early 1961, it was signed as I-78. The lack of expressway names on the signs, as specified by federal standards, caused confusion among drivers who knew the highways by their names. The Clearview Expressway was completed to its present extent in mid-1963, and a short eastbound-only piece of the Nassau Expressway opened in 1971. Other than the preexisting Holland Tunnel and Williamsburg Bridge, no other portions of I-78 were built.
Although the Lower Manhattan Expressway caused the most controversy, the first to be canceled was the Bushwick Expressway, which would have linked the Williamsburg Bridge to the Nassau Expressway via the Bushwick Avenue and Conduit Boulevard corridor. The highway would have cut through the Williamsburg, Bushwick and East New York neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The East New York segment was constructed in the East New York section, from Atlantic Avenue, to the Belt Parkway. This segment today is the western segment of the Conduit Boulevard.
At the urging of Mayor John V. Lindsay, the Cross Brooklyn Expressway, which would connect to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and not provide a link in I-78, was substituted for the Bushwick Expressway in 1967, in order to reduce traffic into Manhattan. While campaigning for re-election in 1969, Mayor Lindsay cancelled plans for the Lower Manhattan and Cross Brooklyn Expressways, citing lack of community support. All three unbuilt expressways along the path of I-78 were deleted at the state level by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in March 1971. The controversy over the highway coincided with the opposition to the Southwest Expressway in Boston from around 1970, and predated Massachusetts Governor Francis Seargent's 1973 cancellation of expressways in Boston and Cambridge.
Effective January 1, 1970, the New York State Department of Transportation truncated the east end of I-78 to the east end of the Williamsburg Bridge at I-278 in Brooklyn. The Clearview and Throgs Neck Expressways, as well as the eastern part of the Cross Bronx Expressway, became I-295, and the Nassau Expressway became I-878, though it was still shown as I-78 on maps and signs until 1989. I-878 was also assigned to the unbuilt Cross Brooklyn Expressway, for a total of 15.6 miles (25.1 km) between the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Note: These exits are all eastbound-only, numbered sequentially as traffic heads counterclockwise around the tunnel's exit plaza; the westbound entrance plaza is several blocks to the north, and has direct entrances from Hudson Street, Canal Street, Watts Street, and Varick Street.
|Hudson River||0.00||0.00||I-78 / Route 139 west – New Jersey||New Jersey state line in the Holland Tunnel|
|Manhattan||1||NY 9A (West Street)||Via Laight Street|
|2||Hudson Street – Uptown||At the corner of Beach Street|
|3||Brooklyn||Via Walker Street and Canal Street to the Manhattan Bridge|
|4||Downtown||Via Varick Street|
|0.90||1.45||5||Canal Street east||Via Laight Street|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- "New York County Inventory Listing" (CSV). New York State Department of Transportation. March 2, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
- Google Maps street maps and USGS topographic maps, accessed via ACME Mapper
- Rand McNally and Company (1960). New York City (Map). http://www.nycroads.com/history/1960_metro-1/. Retrieved April 15, 2010. Note that I-95 is shown on the Hutchinson River Parkway north of the Bruckner Interchange, but the 1955 "Yellow Book" map shows the route on the Bruckner Expressway.
- Port of New York Authority, A Report on Airport Requirements and Sites in the Metropolitan New Jersey–New York Region (OCLC 2551801), 1961, p. 73
- Stengren, Bernard (February 4, 1961). "New Road's Signs Create a Mystery". The New York Times. p. 42. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- Stengren, Bernard (June 25, 1961). "Debate Stirred by Highway Signs". The New York Times. p. 76. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- "First Road Finished for Fair Complex". The New York Times. August 11, 1963. p. 57. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- "10.6-Mile Nassau Expressway May Be Completed in 10 Years". The New York Times. March 21, 1971. p. BQ99. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- "Less Driving Into Manhattan". The New York Times. September 15, 1966. p. 42. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- Clarity, James F. (April 26, 1967). "U.S. Aid Is Quietly Pledged For Cross Brooklyn Expressway". The New York Times. p. 35. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- Carroll, Maurice (July 17, 1969). "Mayor Drops Plans For Express Roads Across 2 Boroughs". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- Roberts, Sam (October 7, 1985). "The Legacy of Westway: Lessons from Its Demise". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- Cliness, Francis X. (March 25, 1971). "Lower Manhattan Road Killed Under State Plan". The New York Times. p. 78. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- State of New York Department of Transportation (January 1, 1970). Official Description of Touring Routes in New York State (PDF). Retrieved April 15, 2010.
- Gulf Oil Company (1977). New York and New Jersey Tourgide Map (Map). Cartography by Rand McNally and Company. LCCN 76-54616.
- Report on the Status of the Federal-Aid Highway Program: Hearing, Ninety-First Congress, Second Session, April 15, 1970, pp. 94, 97
- Federal Highway Administration, Interstate System Route Log & Finder List, January 1971
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