Mid-Manhattan Expressway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Mid-Manhattan Expressway
Route information
History: Proposed in 1937; cancelled in 1971
Major junctions
West end: Lincoln Tunnel at the Hudson River
East end: Queens Midtown Tunnel at the East River
Highway system

The Mid-Manhattan Expressway was a planned but never built expressway that would have crossed Midtown Manhattan in the vicinity of 30th Street, connecting the Lincoln Tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey to the Queens Midtown Tunnel between Manhattan and Queens.



Plans were first proposed in 1937 for an expressway link crossing midtown Manhattan near 34th Street, then, as now, a heavily-traveled crosstown surface street. The original idea was a pair of two-laned tunnels, the Mid-Manhattan Expressway or M.M.E. (sometimes called the Mid-Manhattan Elevated Expressway) connecting the West Side Highway on Hudson River and the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive on the East River.

By 1949, Robert Moses, New York City Parks Commissioner and Arterial Coordinator, proposed a six-lane elevated expressway along 30th Street. The expressway was to connect to the West Side Highway and the Lincoln Tunnel on the west side of Manhattan, and the Queens–Midtown Tunnel and FDR Drive on the east side of the island. It would be constructed within a 100-foot (30 m)-wide right-of-way immediately south of 30th Street. The viaduct would require substantial demolition of high-rise buildings within Midtown Manhattan. To cover the costs of construction, Moses suggested charging tolls on the new roadway, which was estimated to cost $26 million to construct plus another $23 million for the land needed for the project.[1]

A later proposal had the roadway situated ten stories above the most valuable real estate in the world.[citation needed] Air rights above the expressway would be sold and new high-rise buildings would be constructed above the expressway; buildings would be constructed below the viaduct as well.

One fanciful variation favored by then Mayor William O'Dwyer involved running the roadway through the Empire State Building itself, occupying the tenth and eleventh floors.

In 1963, plans for the expressway were finalized and it received the Interstate 495 (I-495) designation. Beginning from its elevated connections to 12th Avenue (NY 9A) or the West Side Elevated Highway, the Mid-Manhattan Expressway would begin as a six-lane depressed roadway in the center of a widened 30th Street to Tenth Avenue. At this point, it would swing to the north side of 30th Street to make connections between Tenth and Ninth Avenues, with the Lincoln Tunnel Third Tube Approaches. Traveling east from this area, it would underpass Ninth Avenue, but rise so as to overpass Eighth Avenue and ultimately continue across Manhattan as an elevated structure. In an area between Eighth and Seventh Avenues, the roadway would recross 30th Street and occupy a 100 ft (30 m) wide right-of-way immediately south of the thoroughfare. From here it would travel east as a six-lane elevated expressway route, ten stories above the city streets to allow for commercial development both above and below the skyway deck. After overpassing Second Avenue it would swing north to follow the 30th Street alignment as a four-lane elevated expressway route to connections with the East River or FDR Drive. Between First and Second Avenues, ramps would be constructed to provide access to the Queens–Midtown Tunnel.


In 1971, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller dealt the expressway plan a blow. Because of rampant community opposition, and the disruption the expressway would cause, the Mid-Manhattan Expressway, along with about a dozen other highway plans, including I-78 through New York City, of which another crosstown highway known as the Lower Manhattan Expressway (LOMEX) was part, was officially canceled. Because of this cancellation, I-495 does not directly intersect with its parent I-95, instead connecting to I-295, which does connect to I-95.

Exit list[edit]

As proposed, the Mid-Manhattan Expressway would have had two interchanges as it crossed Manhattan.[2]

Mile km Exit Destinations Notes
0.00 0.00 I-495 west (Lincoln Tunnel) Continuation into New Jersey
0.20 0.32 To NY 9A (West Side Elevated Highway)
1.50 2.41 To FDR Drive
1.65 2.66 I-495 east (Queens–Midtown Tunnel) Continuation into Queens
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (December 30, 1949). "Mid-City Toll Road Backed By Moses". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved April 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Steve. "Mid-Manhattan Expressway (I-495, unbuilt)". NYCRoads. Retrieved April 29, 2013.