Belt Parkway

The Belt Parkway system of New York City encircles Brooklyn and Queens along the Shore, Southern, Laurelton, and Cross Island Parkways. Beginning at the Gowanus Expressway (Interstate 278), the Shore Parkway carries the first leg of the Belt Parkway along The Narrows and Gravesend Bay through the Bay Ridge and Bath Beach neighborhoods of southwest Brooklyn. Shore Parkway continues east near Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay to the Gateway National Recreation Area and Jamaica Bay.

At the merge with Conduit Avenue and the Nassau Expressway split, Shore Parkway transitions into Southern Parkway. The Belt Parkway parallels New York 878 north of John F. Kennedy International Airport from Howard Beach to Locust Manor and Laurelton. At Laurelton, the Belt Parkway continues along Laurelton Parkway northeast to the Southern State Parkway, one of three freeways spurring east from New York City onto Long Island.

Belt Parkway name changes again to Cross Island Parkway on the northern trek through Cambria Heights and Bellerose along the Queens and Nassau County line. Cross Island Parkway turns northwest at its junction with the Grand Central Parkway through Alley Pond Park. The parkway gains in importance as the most direct route for passenger vehicles between Interstate 495 (Long Island Expressway) and Interstate 295 (Throgs Neck Bridge) for interests between Long Island and the Bronx. The Belt Parkway concludes at the Cross Island Parkway junction with Interstate 678 (Whitestone Expressway / Bronx Whitestone Bridge).

Construction of the 36-mile long Belt Parkway route commenced in 1934 with completion for all but two miles of the highway on June 29, 1940. Costing a total of $30 million, the parkway system fully opened to traffic in May of 1941 with the bridging of a two-mile gap at Sheepshead Bay. There local residents fought the highway under the premise that the highway would segregate their neighborhood.1

The Belt Parkway name is used overall along the Shore, Southern, and Laurelton Parkway segments through Brooklyn and south Queens. The Cross Island Parkway name prevails as the primary name along its segment. Each segment retained its unique name until the 1970s.1

For a time 15.6 miles of the Belt Parkway were considered for inclusion into the Interstate system. Announced in March 1971 by then Governor Nelson Rockefeller, upgrading of the parkway to a ten-lane freeway with four truck/bus lanes was touted for the highway between the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (Interstate 278) and Nassau Expressway (New York 878). Estimated to cost $213 million, the upgrade would fill the void created by the cancellation of the Bushwick (Interstate 78) and Cross-Brooklyn Expressways. However as was the case with many other 1970s projects, the Belt Parkway upgrade met stiff opposition from residents along the corridor citing pollution and traffic congestion issues in their defense.1


Belt Parkway west
The interchange between Belt Parkway and Interstate 678 (Van Wyck Expressway) entails the parallel New York 27 (Conduit Avenue) for some of the movements between the two limited-access highways. Conduit Avenue forms the Belt Parkway frontage road system from Sunrise Highway (Exit 23) west to the Nassau Expressway (New York 878) merge and Exit 17. New York 27 follows Conduit Avenue west from Sunrise Highway to Linden Boulevard at Ozone Park. Travelers bound for the Van Wyck Expressway southbound from the Belt Parkway westbound must use Conduit Avenue west to its loop ramp onto Interstate 678. A direct ramp onto Interstate 678 north exists from Belt Parkway westbound in conjunction with the Interstate 878 (Nassau Expressway) westbound ending. Photo taken 08/29/05.
New York 27 (Conduit Avenue) westbound at the loop ramp onto Interstate 678 (Van Wyck Expressway) southbound for John F. Kennedy Airport. The Van Wyck Expressway ends at the terminal loop road within the airport. Photo taken 08/29/05.
Motorists bound for the Belt Parkway westbound from both directions of Interstate 678 utilize New York 27 (Conduit Avenue) westbound. A slip ramp merges onto the six-lane parkway after the Conduit Avenue signalized intersection with 134th Place. The overhead references the connection to the Verrazano Bridge (Interstate 278) and the prohibition of commercial trucks and busses. Photo taken 08/29/05.
Travelers emanating from Interstate 878 west, Interstate 678, and New York 27 (Conduit Avenue) westbound join the Belt Parkway ahead of the 130th Street over crossing. Departing the parkway ahead is the Exit 18B off-ramp to for Lefferts Boulevard and Aqueduct Race Track. Photo taken 08/29/05.
A slip ramp departs Belt Parkway westbound onto New York 27 (Conduit Avenue) westbound ahead of its intersection with Lefferts Boulevard. Lefferts Boulevard travels north from the JFK Airport long term parking area and Aqueduct Road across the parkway into the South Ozone Park and South Richmond Hill neighborhoods. Aqueduct Race Track lies west of Lefferts Boulevard between Conduit and Rockaway Boulevards at 114th Street. Photo taken 08/29/05.
Departing the parkway next is Exit 17N onto New York 27 (Conduit Avenue) west for its intersection with Cohancy Street and ramp to Cross Bay Boulevard northbound. Cohancy Street travels over the Belt Parkway between Eckford Avenue and Howard Beach. A direct ramp links Belt Parkway onto Cross Bay Boulevard south at Exit 17S. Photo taken 08/29/05.
Exit 17N departs Belt Parkway west onto Conduit Avenue ahead of the Cohancy Street intersection. Cross Bay Boulevard ahead constitutes a north-south arterial between Howard Beach and Ozone Park. Cross Bay Boulevard transitions into Woodhaven Boulevard northward to through Woodhaven, Forest Hills, and New York 25 (Queens Boulevard). Photo taken 08/29/05.
Cross Bay Boulevard south of Howard Beach constitutes a multi-lane divided causeway across Jamaica Bay to Broad Channel and Seaside. The wetlands between the two communities are apart of the Gateway National Recreation Area and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. An extra wide right of way through this stretch of the Belt Parkway is leftover from the unconstructed westbound carriageway of the Nassau Expressway. The Nassau Expressway was to cross over the mainline on its transition to the Cross Brooklyn Expressway of unconstructed Interstate 78. The eastern half of New York 878 was built from Belt Parkway east to Interstate 678 however. Photo taken 08/29/05.
Exit 17W leaves the Belt Parkway westbound for New York 27 (Conduit Avenue). Conduit Avenue heads 2.3 miles northwest to its merge onto Atlantic Avenue. New York 27 departs Conduit Avenue for Linden Boulevard in less than a mile. The carriageways of Conduit Avenue from the Belt Parkway west to Atlantic Avenue include a wide grassy right of way left over from the unconstructed Interstate 78 (Cross Brooklyn Expressway). Interstate 78 was planned to continue west from the Nassau Expressway via the Cross Brooklyn Expressway to the Bushwick Expressway and Williamsburg Bridge. An extra wide Conduit Avenue is the result of the cancelled freeway plan. Photo taken 08/29/05.
Belt Parkway east
New York 27 (Conduit Avenue) joins the Belt Parkway along the parallel frontage road system from Cross Bay Boulevard east to Sunrise Highway at Laurelton. Conduit Avenue eastbound crosses over Belt Parkway ahead of the Cohancy Street over crossing. From there the two highways continue along side one another to the New York 878 (Nassau Expressway) eastbound beginning. Ramps from both Belt Parkway and New York 27 eastbound serve the eastbound-only section of the Nassau Expressway at Exit 19. Drivers destined for Interstate 678 (Van Wyck Expressway) must use New York 878 to access the north-south freeway as there are no direct ramps from the Belt Parkway eastbound. Photo taken 08/29/05.

Sources:

  1. Belt Parkway @ NYCRoads.com.

Page Updated December 2, 2005.

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