The JFK Expressway begins on the grounds of John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York City. The road has southbound ramps that provide access to Terminals 1-2-3, Terminal 4, and Terminals 5-6-7 along with the parking areas to Terminals 4 and 5. The northbound direction has access from all these points. The northbound direction has an exit that provides access to the I-678 (Van Wyck Expressway) that also provides access to long-term parking, rental car returns, as well as return access to the terminals. There is also a southbound entrance from I-678. North of here, the road continues north as a four-lane freeway, with a southbound exit and northbound entrance to Terminals 8 and 9. In the area, the road passes under the AirTrain JFK people mover that serves the airport. The JFK Expressway passes under airport runways in a tunnel as a six-lane road and comes to an interchange with South Cargo Road, which provides access to Cargo Areas, Medical Building, Vetport, Airport Services, as well as a return route to the terminals.
The road turns to the north again and interchanges with 150th Street, with access to Long Term Parking, Rental Car Returns, and General Aviation. This interchange has no northbound exit, with the South Cargo Road interchange serving as the northbound exit. The JFK Expressway comes to an interchange with NY 878 (Nassau Expressway) with a northbound exit to the eastbound direction, which provides access to Rockaway Boulevard, and a northbound exit and entrance in both directions to the westbound direction (unsigned I-878), which also provides access to I-678 and the westbound Belt Parkway. The expressway has a northbound exit and southbound entrance with eastbound NY 27 (South Conduit Avenue) before merging into the eastbound direction of the Belt Parkway.
Along the southbound lanes of the JFK Expressway just south of the junction with NY 27, there is an incomplete "stub" ramp that was to lead to the westbound lanes of NY 878, which were supposed to be built as far as Cross Bay Boulevard. The $80 million extension was cancelled in 1995.
In 1961, when the Van Wyck Expressway (Interstate 678) opened, it was the only expressway to the airport. Consequently, traffic jams often backed up the expressway for several miles north.
The JFK Expressway was built as part of a costly overhaul of the JFK Airport that began in the late 1980s. In 1991, the JFK Expressway, which was supposed to complete the Clearview Expressway, was completed. However, the section of expressway between Conduit and Hillside Avenues was deemed too disruptive to the surrounding neighborhoods, so it was cancelled. The JFK Expressway, lying almost exclusively within JFK Airport, is maintained by the airport's operator, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), along with the portions of the Van Wyck Expressway on airport grounds and all other airport roadways.