Queens–Midtown Tunnel

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Queens Midtown Tunnel
Queens-Midtown Tunnel 4.JPG
Manhattan portal
Other name(s) Queens–Midtown Tunnel
Location Manhattan and Queens, New York
Coordinates 40°44′44″N 73°57′53″W / 40.74556°N 73.96472°W / 40.74556; -73.96472 (Queens–Midtown Tunnel)Coordinates: 40°44′44″N 73°57′53″W / 40.74556°N 73.96472°W / 40.74556; -73.96472 (Queens–Midtown Tunnel)
Route 4 lanes of I-495
Crosses East River
Opened November 15, 1940; 76 years ago (November 15, 1940)
Operator MTA Bridges and Tunnels
Traffic 79,063 (2010)[1]
Toll As of March 19, 2017, $8.50 (Tolls by Mail); $5.76 (New York E-ZPass)
Length 6,414 feet (1,955 m)
No. of lanes 4
Tunnel clearance 12 feet 1 inch (3.68 m)
Route map
Queens–Midtown Tunnel is located in New York City
Queens–Midtown Tunnel

The Queens–Midtown Tunnel (sometimes simply known as the Midtown Tunnel)[2][3] is a highway, tunnel and toll road in New York City. It crosses under the East River and connects the borough of Queens (at the Long Island City terminus of the Long Island Expressway) on Long Island, with the borough of Manhattan (between the major crosstown thoroughfares of East 34th Street and East 42nd Street in the Midtown Manhattan area). Designed by Ole Singstad, it was opened to traffic on November 15, 1940. The tunnel consists of twin tubes carrying four traffic lanes, and is 6,414 feet (1,955 m) long. It once carried New York State Route 24. The tunnel is owned by New York City and operated by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.


Toll plaza at the Queens end

When planning began, a bridge was strongly supported by some backers, including Robert Moses,[4] who balked at the increased cost of a tunnel and the fact that it would not be completed in time for the 1939 World's Fair. Manhattan borough president Samuel Levy in particular was a strong backer of a six-lane bridge plan. Commissioner William Friedman of the New York City Tunnel Authority rejected the alternative outright.[5] The Ole Singstad-designed tunnel was opened to traffic on November 15, 1940.[6]

From 1981 to 2011, the tunnel was closed to traffic for a few hours one night each spring to allow for the annual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Animal Walk. Several nights before the circus opened at Madison Square Garden, the elephants marched into Manhattan and down 34th Street to the arena.[7] While this event was a much anticipated annual tradition for some, in recent years it attracted organizations protesting the treatment of the circus animals.[8] When the circus moved to the Barclays Center in 2012, the elephant walk through the tunnel ceased.[9]

In the 1997 feature film Men in Black, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith star in a scene in which their Ford LTD car rides upside down on the ceiling of the tunnel.

Bus routes[edit]

The tunnel carries 21 express bus routes; sixteen of these routes use the tunnel for westbound travel only. The bus routes that use the tunnel are the BM5, QM1, QM2, QM3, QM4, QM5, QM6, QM7, QM8, QM10, QM11, QM12, QM15, QM16, QM17, QM18, QM24, QM25, all operated by the MTA Bus Company, and the X63, X64, X68 operated by MTA New York City Transit. All of these routes except the BM5, QM7, QM8, QM11 and QM25 use the tunnel for westbound travel only, as most of the routes use the Queensboro Bridge for eastbound travel.


Starting on March 19, 2017, drivers pay $8.50 per car or $3.50 per motorcycle for tolls by mail. E‑ZPass users with transponders issued by the New York E‑ZPass Customer Service Center pay $5.76 per car or $2.51 per motorcycle. All E-ZPass users with transponders not issued by the New York E-ZPass CSC will be required to pay Toll-by-mail rates.[10]

Open-road cashless tolling started on January 10, 2017. The tollbooths were dismantled, and drivers are no longer able to pay cash at the tunnel. Instead, there are cameras mounted onto new overhead gantries located on the Manhattan side.[11][12] Drivers without E-ZPass have a picture of their license plate taken, and a bill for the toll is mailed to them. For E-ZPass users, sensors detect their transponders wirelessly.[11][12]


  1. ^ "2010 Traffic Data Report for New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. Appendix C. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Queens Midtown Tunnel". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Queens Midtown Tunnel Access Roads". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Queens-Midtown Tunnel". NYCRoads.com. Retrieved August 1, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Bridge, Not Tunnel, to Queens is Urged". The New York Times. April 13, 1936. p. 19. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  6. ^ "$58,000,000 Tunnel to Queens Opened". The New York Times. November 16, 1940. p. 1. Retrieved October 11, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Elephant Promenade through Queens Midtown Tunnel" (Press release). MTA Bridges & Tunnels. March 14, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  8. ^ Barry, Dan (March 22, 2006). "The Manhattan of Beasts". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  9. ^ http://animalnewyork.com/2013/therell-be-no-elephant-walk-for-this-years-ringling-brothers-circus/
  10. ^ "2017 Toll Information". MTA Bridges & Tunnels. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Siff, Andrew (October 5, 2016). "Automatic Tolls to Replace Gates at 9 NYC Spans: Cuomo". NBC New York. Retrieved December 25, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b WABC (December 21, 2016). "MTA rolls out cashless toll schedule for bridges, tunnels". ABC7 New York. Retrieved December 25, 2016. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Queens-Midtown Tunnel at Wikimedia Commons