Fun with Highways: Kew Gardens Interchange

Returning to San Francisco from New York often involves a highway trip to JFK Airport, and there is one spot along the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) that is almost always guaranteed to come to standstill, the Kew Gardens Interchange:


The Van Wyck Expressway runs vertically in this picture, from the center top to the center bottom.  The Grand Central Parkway runs from the upper left to the center right.  The Jackie Robinson Parkway runs from the lower left to the interchange where it ends at the Grand Central Parkway.  The Union Turnpike runs along either side of the parkway.  Finally, the main surface thoroughfare through Queens, Queens Boulevard (NY 25) is in the lower left corner.


One doesn’t really see the complexity of this interchange from the road, just a series of exits in quick succession (or not so quick when one is barely moving), and in fact that it seems like the Van Wyck is merging into another, narrower road at the end, before the reassuring signs that one is still on the right road to the airport. It often seems like many of the larger highways in New York are really stitched together from older, smaller, highways.

This interchange was featured on Empire State Roads, with more information and images.

I have been on the parkways as well of course.  The Jackie Robinson Parkway winds its way narrowly towards Brookyln through parks and near several cemeteries.  I have relatives who reside in at least one of them.

Bruckner Interchange, again and again

In writing about my trip to New York, where better to begin than with our old friend the Bruckner Interchange:

Most of my trips to New York pass through this interchange, which connects to and from JFK Airport via I-678 (the Whitestone Bridge and Van Wyck Expressway); and north into Westchester via Hutchinson River Parkway. However, this trip involved more encounters that most, and indeed a “complete” tour of the major connections. First, north via Whitestone Bridge via the Hutch on arrival. On departure, we came east along the Bruckner Expressway (I-278) and again to the Whitestone. Our family events involved travelling from Westchester to Long Island, again via the Whitestone Bridge. For the return trip, we took the Throgs Neck Bridge (I-295) and the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-295, I-95).

I almost always use the Whitestone for travel to and from Queens and Long Island, so it had been years since I travelled on the Throgs Neck Bridge. It seems in dire need of maintenance. Big rust spots do not give one a sense of confidence when travelling on a major bridge 150 feet above water. I would expect folks to take maintenance very seriously after the Minneapolis bridge collapse this summer. Especially after I find articles like this

Bruckner Interchange

Traveling between my family's home in Westchester and the major airports in Queens often requires passing through the massive Bruckner Interchange. This rather impressive interchange in the Bronx connects the Hutchinson River Parkway (aka “the Hutch”), the infamous Cross-Bronx Expressway (I-95 and I-295), the Bruckner Expressway (I-278 and I-95) and I-678 (The Van Wyck Expressway) to JFK Airport.

One does not usually associate New York with massive freeways like those here in California – but remember that New York is the largest city in the U.S. and the traffic has to go somewhere. Much if it is carried on large aging freeways in the outer boroughs, such as the Bronx.

There isn't really much of a “statement” here – I just think large highway interchanges are cool. However, I do recommend for those interested reading up on the rather harsh history of highways in New York, most notably the Cross-Bronx Expressway and the never built Lower Manhattan Expressway.