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Long Island Expressway (LIE) Facts and History

Facts about the LIE: Interstate 495(abbreviated I-495) runs 66.38 miles (106.2 km) entirely within New York state, from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel in New York City to Riverhead, New York, through the counties of ...

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Facts about the LIE:

Interstate 495(abbreviated I-495) runs 66.38 miles (106.2 km) entirely within New York state, from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel in New York City to Riverhead, New York, through the counties of New York, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk, ending just before the "fish-tail" separation of the North and South Forks of eastern Long Island. I-495 is better known by New Yorkers as the Long Island Expressway, which is often abbreviated as LIE.

The LIE was constructed in stages starting in 1939, when the Queens Midtown Tunnel was built, until 1972, when its Riverhead terminus was finished. Plans have existed to extend the LIE across the Long Island Sound to either Guilford, Connecticut, Old Saybrook, Connecticut, or Rhode Island via a series of existing and man-made islands, but a lack of funding and public opposition have killed these proposals.

From 1994 to 2005, HOV lanes were added to I-495. Beginning with a small section in Western Suffolk County, the lanes were added in subsequent sections until their completion on June 30, 2005. There is one HOV lane in each direction, in the median of the highway. They now run from Exit 31 Cross Island Parkway to Exit 64 at Medford in central Suffolk County.

From 6:00 am to 10:00 am and from 3pm (15:00) to 8 pm (20:00) monday through Friday, the HOV lanes are limited to buses and motorcycles without occupancy requirement and passenger vehicles with at least two occupants. Trailers and commercial trucks are always prohibited.

Smaller highways continue on from the end of the LIE to Greenport on the North Fork and past the Hamptons to Montauk on the South Fork. Cynics have suggested that the acronym "LIE" is appropriate since, due to the high volume of traffic on the LIE, the term "expressway" is a lie. This volume of traffic has lead to the nickname of "The World's Longest Parking Lot".


66.38 miles

Major cities along the route:

New York City, New York

Intersections with other interstates:

Interstate 278 in Queens, New York (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway)
Interstate 295 in Queens, New York (Clearview Expressway)
Interstate 678 in Queens, New York (Van Wyck Expressway/Whitestone Expressway)

Parent route

Interstate 95

Proposed interchanges and service road configurations:

As the Long Island Expressway was being built across Long Island, it was specifically being desinged to accomodate certain topographical conditions and proposed interchanges.

Exit 39A was intended for the proposed extension of the Wantagh State Parkway near Powell Road in Old Westbury. It was going to be a "Y" Interchange with an east-to-southbound only off-ramp and a north-to-westbound only on-ramp running beneath Powell Road.

Exit 47 was intended for the extension of the Bethpage State Parkway near Washington Avenue in Plainview. This was to be a partial cloverleaf with southbound only off-ramps in both directions, and northbound only on-ramps in both directions. The East-to-Southbound ramp was also to have an additional connecting ramp to a two-way frontage road for a development and an industrial area.

The original rights-of-way for the service road between Exits 48 and 49 were intended to weave around the steep Manetto Hills area of the main road, rather than running parallel to the road as it does today. The land between the service road and the main road was reserved for housing developments. The right-of-way for the original westbound service road still weaves through the development on the north side of the road.

Exit 52(Commack Road/Suffolk CR 4), was intended to be moved west to an interchange with the formerly proposed Babylon-Northport Expressway(realigned NY 231) in the vicinity of the two parking areas. These ramps were supposed to be accessible from the service roads.

Exit 55A was meant to be a trumpet interchange for the Hauppauge Spur of NY 347, between Long Island Motor Parkway(Exit 55) and NY 111(Exit 56). The service roads were supposed to go around the interchange, rather than run parallel to the main road. Ramps on the east side of Motor Parkway and west side of NY 111 were to be eliminated.

Prior to the construction of the interchange with Nicolls Road(Suffolk CR 97), Exit 62 was for Morris Avenue and Waverly Avenue eastbound, and Morris Avenue westbound.
Between Exits 63 and 64 the eastbound service road was supposed to weave around a recahrge basin and replace a local residential street.


Originally, I-495 was to stretch from the Queens Midtown Tunnel and I-278 to I-295, the Clearview Expressway. Plans later included creating the Mid-Manhattan Expressway across Manhattan to the Lincoln Tunnel, to connect to I-95 in New Jersey. These plans were eventually cancelled, and the NJ stretch of I-495 was downgraded to a NJ state highway. However, Long Island lobbied to extend I-495 east, upgrading NY 24 to NY 495 and then I-495, to Riverhead where it terminates at NY 25. Since I-495 extends from a city outward, it is technically a spur, which should have an odd first digit. Even first digits are usually assigned to bypasses and beltways. A proposed Orient Point-Watch Hill Bridge would have connected I-495 back to I-95 in Rhode Island.

The highway is technically only referred to as the Long Island Expressway in Nassau and Suffolk counties, while in Queens, it called the Horace Harding Expressway and Queens-Midtown Expressway east of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. These names, however, are rarely used by locals, and it is colloquially referred to as the Long Island Expressway throughout its entire run. Indeed, signs leading to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel in Manhattan read "Long Island Expressway". In Queens, the "proper" names are generally used to refer to the service roads, which are signed "Queens Midtown Expressway" or "Horace Harding Expressway", like other city streets.

The LIE has often been termed the "World's Longest Parking Lot" due to its notoriously bad traffic jams; however, that title is now somewhat erroneous. Many Long Island residents admit, thanks in part to recently finished construction of an HOV lane stretching from the Queens border to Exit 64, that the LIE tends to move better than the island's east-west parkways, the Northern State Parkway and the Southern State Parkway.

The oldest tree in the New York metropolitan area, called the "Queens Giant," is very close to the Long Island Expressway in northeastern Queens (near the Douglaston Plaza Mall), and is visible while driving westbound. The Queens Giant is also the tallest tree in the New York metro area.

Oscar-winning film director Alan J. Pakula was killed in a car accident on the LIE on November 19, 1998. Pakula lost control of his car after a metal pipe kicked up by a car in front of Pakula's crashed through his windshield and struck him in the head, causing him to lose control of the car and crash it into a fence.


Long Island Transportation Management, Inc. - HOV Lane Information

Article Source:

This information was compiled from

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

article licensed under

GNU Free Documentation License

as of the date of publication.