Belt Parkway, New York
|Reference Route 907A-D|
|Get started||New York|
According to Directoryaah, the Belt Parkway is a series of parkways in the US state of New York, surrounding the city of New York City, in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. Four parkways make up the Belt Parkway, the Shore Parkway, Southern Parkway, Laurelton Parkway, and the Cross Island Parkway. The entire route is 41 kilometers long. Freight traffic and buses (commercial traffic) are not allowed on parkways, nor on the Belt Parkway.
The highway begins as Shore Parkway in western Brooklyn, branching off from Interstate 278, or Gowanus Expressway. There are 2×3 lanes available here. The highway runs right along the coast, and to the north you can get a good view of the Manhattan skyline. To the south, the imposing Verrazano Narrows Bridge is visible. Only from the south are connections to I-278 at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Brooklyn’s road network consists of a dense grid, with blocks measuring 75 by 275 meters. One passes by Coney Island, a tourist attraction. The Belt Parkway crosses the beach in some places. At Floyd Bennett’s airport, one crosses Flatbush Avenue, a major street in Brooklyn. In the Canarsie district one crosses the border into Queens county, to the Borough of the same name.
The Belt Parkway in Queens, near JFK Airport.
The Cross Island Parkway.
In the Ozone Park neighborhood, one crosses the Nassau Expressway, a short highway to John F. Kennedy Airport. Here the road is called the Southern Parkway, and it crosses Interstate 678, which runs through Queens to the Bronx. In the Laurelton neighborhood, the highway is called the Laurelton Parkway, and the highway turns north to run almost on the county line with Nassau County. Here one crosses the Southern State Parkway, which leads to the countless suburbs east of New York. From here, the highway is called the Cross Island Parkway. At Bellerose Terrace, the highway briefly passes through Nassau County. In the Queens Village neighborhood one crosses the Grand Central Parkway. The highway runs through the woods of Alley Pond Park here.
A little further one crosses Interstate 495, the Long Island Expressway. Then the highway runs directly along the coast again, past the Little Neck Bay. Here too, 2×3 lanes are available. In the Beechhurst neighborhood, one crosses Interstate 295, which runs to the Bronx via the Throgs Neck bridge. The Belt Parkway then terminates at Interstate 678, which runs from JFK Airport to Bronx.
According to Ebizdir, in 1930, Robert Moses unfolded his plans for a highway network for 500 civic leaders. The plans also included the Belt Parkway, then called “Marginal Boulevard” and later “Circumferential Parkway”. It was intended to connect Manhattan to the Long Island and Westchester County parkways. Along the parkway, Moses planned a series of ribbon parks similar to those along the Parkways on Long Island. The route was established in 1937.
Construction of the Belt Parkway began in 1934. During the parkway’s construction in the late 1930s, tested road furnishings, such as signage and lighting for the parkways on Long Island, were also applied to the Belt Parkway. A total of 47 viaducts, six pedestrian bridges, five railway bridges and six bridges over the water were built. 26 parks were realized along the highway. The highway was opened on June 29, 1940, except for 3 kilometers. The Belt Parkway was called “the best highway construction in an urban environment ever” by the New York Times. The missing section was located between Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park. Local residents feared that the parkway would create a barrier between residential areas and beaches. This section was delayed for nearly a year, but Moses managed to complete the highway.
Until the 1970s, the Belt Parkway consisted of the Shore, Southern, Laurelton, and Cross Island Parkways. Today only the Cross Island Parkway remains, the rest is signposted as the Belt Parkway.
The highway was initially constructed in the 1930s with 2×2 lanes and a space reservation for 2×3 lanes. The rapid growth of car traffic after World War II due to the growth of the suburbs in Nassau County soon necessitated this widening. In the late 1940s, the highway was widened to 2×3 lanes. Plans were announced in 1971 to upgrade the Belt Parkway to Interstate Highway. For this, the highway had to be adapted to make freight traffic possible. Plans were to have 6 lanes for passenger cars, and to build 2 lanes for trucks and buses in both directions, 10 lanes in total. The proposal cost $213 million. The proposals met with opposition and that same year Governor Rockefeller withdrew his support for the widening. In the decades that followed, there was no highway through Brooklyn to the east for truck traffic to use, leading to heavy truck traffic on Brooklyn’s street system.
|I-278||Cross Island Parkway||29-06-1940|
|Sheepshead Bay||Marine Park||00-05-1941|
There have been proposals in the past to turn the Belt Parkway into an Interstate Highway. In 1971, plans were announced by Governor Rockefeller to upgrade 16 miles of the Belt Parkway between the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Nassau Expressway to 2×5 parallel lanes; 2×3 lanes for passenger cars and 2×2 lanes for buses and trucks. The cost was estimated at $213 million at the time. This plan was later shelved, but one problem is that there is no east-west route through Brooklyn that is open to all types of vehicular traffic. Freight traffic has to make detours through Queens or on the lower road network of Brooklyn.
During the 1980s minor reconstructions were carried out on the Belt Parkway, mainly to improve road safety. Several bridges were replaced after 2000 because of their age. Between 2014 and 2018, the Gerritsen Inlet Bridge in Brooklyn was replaced by a new 2×3 lane bridge with emergency lanes. The work was completed on 26 February 2018.
The Cross Island Parkway.
A sharp bend in the Belt Parkway.
Because the highway only has 2×3 lanes, the highway is at its capacity almost all day. On average, about 150,000 vehicles use the Belt Parkway, this number is quite stable. The quietest part is in front of the I-678 at the end of the highway with 80,000 vehicles per day.
|4||Bay 8th Street||144,000|
|8||Coney Island Avenue||145,000|
|17||Cross Bay Boulevard||146,000|
|25||Southern State Parkway||188,000|
|29||Grand Central Parkway||142,000|
|30||Long Island Expressway||109,000|
|Exit 0 (I-278)||Exit 1||2×2|
|Exit 1||Exit 25A (I-678)||2×3|