Interchange of the Week
Monday, 26 February 2001
I-678, NY 878 & Belt Parkway, Queens
NY 27 & JFK Expressway

Orientation: From left to right runs the Belt Parkway, flanked by one-way North and South Conduit Avenues. This section of the Belt Parkway is more specifically the Southern Parkway, not to be confused with the Southern State Parkway to the east. However, all signs refer to the Belt Parkway, and only NYSDOT considers the Southern Parkway for reference route purposes (its reference route number is 907D). The parkway carries passenger cars only; commercial traffic uses North and South Conduit Avenues, which carry the NY 27 designation.

The Nassau Expressway eastbound runs from left to right, just south of the Belt Parkway. The westbound expressway, much shorter than the eastbound, enters at bottom right and ends amidst the interchange at center. Although the Nassau Expressway appears in recent federal highway logs as Interstate 878, it is considered for signage purposes to be NY 878.

Interstate 678, the Van Wyck Expressway, runs top to bottom through the left half of this photo. The JFK Expressway enters at bottom in the right half, ending at the Belt Parkway at right. Both provide access to John F. Kennedy International Airport, the very edge of which is visible at bottom. 150th Street, a forerunner to the JFK Expressway, runs just to its left across the Belt Parkway and Nassau Expressway.

Exit numbers: From the westbound Belt Parkway, Exit 19 is for the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) northbound. From the eastbound parkway, Exit 19 (west of this photo) is for the Nassau Expressway (NY 878), which provides access also to I-678 in both directions. Exit 20, from the westbound parkway, is for the JFK Expressway, and from the eastbound parkway, for 150th Street.

From the Nassau Expressway eastbound, Exit 1 is for the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) and Exit 2 is for the JFK Expressway. Westbound, the expressway has no numbered exits.

From the Van Wyck Expressway, Exit 1E-1W is for the Belt Parkway and NY 27, with separate ramps for each direction. Exit 1A is for the eastbound-only Nassau Expressway (NY 878). The 150th Place exit, like the other airport exits, is unnumbered.

Exits on the JFK Expressway are not numbered.

The interchange: This complex junction of many routes was made even more so in the early 1990's with the construction of the JFK Expressway and the eastward extension of the Nassau Expressway to Rockaway Boulevard. Still, the Nassau Expressway remains an unfinished route: another segment exists to the southeast in Nassau County, and evidence exists of the planned addition of westbound lanes to its one-way eastbound section. Specifically, notice a "ghost" ramp from the JFK Expressway south of South Conduit Avenue, as well as some right-of-way clearing westward to the Van Wyck Expressway.

A prevalent feature in this series of interchanges is the continual splitting and re-splititng, merging and re-merging of ramps as they endeavor to provide connections to each of the parallel highways. This is largely the result of having separate roadways for passenger traffic (Belt Parkway) and mixed traffic (NY 27), as well as a third roadway (Nassau Expressway) to isolate airport traffic.

We will begin our examination of the various connections with the Belt Parkway westbound and its companion, North Conduit Avenue (NY 27 westbound). Parkway Exit 20, joined by a ramp from North Conduit Avenue, serves the JFK Expressway. Next, ramps from the Parkway (at Exit 19) and NY 27, themselves joined by the westbound Nassau Expressway, merge to serve the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) northbound, as well as its service road, which intersects the various surface streets. North Conduit Avenue itself snakes under this ramp before joining yet another split ramp, from the westbound Nassau Expressway to the Belt Parkway and NY 27. At an old-fashioned half-cloverleaf with the Van Wyck Expressway, entrance ramps from the latter are connected to the Belt Parkway by a slip ramp at far left. However, the exit from North Conduit Avenue to the southbound Van Wyck Expressway can no longer be reached directly from the parkway. Since this ramp primarily served the airport, it was rendered redundant with the opening of the JFK Expressway and was therefore removed.

From the eastbound Belt Parkway and South Conduit Avenue (NY 27 eastbound), connections to the Van Wyck Expressway are made by way of Exit 1 of the eastbound Nassau Expressway, which doubles as the eastbound Exit 19 on the Belt Parkway. The slip ramp at far left serves Belt Parkway Exit 20, which leads to 150th Street by means of a short ramp from South Conduit Avenue. The two parallel highways are joined immediately afterward by ramps from the Van Wyck Expressway. An entrance from 150th Street joins South Conduit Avenue, at which point a slip ramp from the latter joins the entrance from the JFK Expressway, providing a connection just east of this photo with the Belt Parkway and back to South Conduit Avenue.

The Nassau Expressway (NY 878) serves in large part as a collector/distributor road for the various other highways. Exit 1 on its eastbound-only segment consists of a pair of ramps to the Van Wyck Expressway, while Exit 2 is a similar pair to the JFK Expressway. The westbound Nassu Expressway consists essentially of a connector from the JFK Expressway to the westbound Belt Parkway and NY 27, and the northbound Van Wyck Expressway.

On the Van Wyck Expressway, a northbound ramp splits to serve the eastbound Nassau Expressway (Exit 1A) and the eastbound Belt Parkway and NY 27 (Exit 1E). The first fork of this ramp is joined on the inside by another fork from the southbound ramp. At the half-cloverleaf, Exit 1W in both directions serves the westbound Belt Parkway via North Conduit Avenue. Notice also that a separate northbound collector/distributor lane funnels traffic bound for Exit 1W as well as for Exit 2 (Rockaway Boulevard), north of the photo, and that entering from the westbound highways. A similar arrangement exists on the southbound side.

At bottom, an exit from the southbound Van Wyck Expressway to 150th Place can be seen, as well as the start of a southbound service road. This exit serves a hotel and other ancillary airport facilities, and is one of several airport-only exits on the Van Wyck Expressway.

The JFK Expressway is under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Kennedy Airport. It has no exits of its own at this junction, but serves as a second expressway access point between the airport and the east-west highways.

Belt Parkway,
Nassau Expressway,
Van Wyck Expressway, and
JFK Expressway at Steve Anderson's
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, official site.

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