Generations of motorists in Queens have been tormented by bottlenecks on the Long Island Expressway that have been just as predictable through the years as death and taxes.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday, Oct. 20, that the state’s Department of Transportation has begun construction on projects to add auxiliary lanes and improve exit and entrance ramps on the thoroughfare in Queens from the Little Neck Parkway all the way to 48th Street in Maspeth and Sunnyside.
“Investment in our state’s transportation infrastructure is critical for the continued expansion of a thriving economy,” Hochul said. “These much-needed upgrades will ease congestion and enhance safety along one of the most heavily utilized vehicle corridors in New York state.”
Construction has begun on a $19.7 million project that will lengthen three acceleration lanes and three deceleration lanes. Three auxiliary lanes will also be added between 48th Street and the Little Neck Parkway in Douglaston, improving traffic flow and allowing motorists additional space to exit and enter the highway.
“The overall safety on our streets and the modernization of our aging transportation infrastructure go hand-in-hand,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “This critical project will address both, and Queens is grateful for the state’s sizable investment in the much-needed revamping of the Long Island Expressway. We look forward to ensuring a safer, smoother ride for those who drive.”
The project will not expand the LIE to four lanes in the area nor expand the HOV lanes in Nassau County into Queens, according to a NYS DOT spokesman. Exit and entrance ramps at Kissena Boulevard, Utopia Parkway and Francis Lewis Boulevard will be extended by approximately 370 feet. Other safety enhancements will be installed at those locations.
“I applaud Governor Hochul on her commitment to safety through these much-needed investments in traffic improvements on the LIE,” Councilman Paul Vallone said. “Safety has always been one of my top priorities and I am glad to see that Queens is on the governor’s radar as she brings our state out of the pandemic and into a bright new future.”
Westbound auxiliary lanes will be built from Main Street to College Point Boulevard and from Kissena Boulevard to Main Street. An eastbound auxiliary lane will be built from Main Street to Kissena Boulevard. These auxiliary lanes will improve traffic flow and allow motorists additional space to exit and enter the highway, according to the DOT.
“Thanks to Governor Hochul for continuing to invest in our local roads including this crucial artery that serves my congressional district and our region,” Congresswoman Grace Meng said. “Upgrading and improving our aging infrastructure is vital as we seek to build back better and I look forward to this work enhancing travel and safety for motorists.”
The Long Island Expressway project announcement comes just weeks after another milestone was reached in the ongoing $365 million Kew Gardens Interchange reconfiguration project to improve travel in eastern Queens.
“It is heartening to know that Governor Hochul recognizes that Queens has problems with its arterial highway system, and that the governor is committed to giving Queens motorists a safer and smoother trip,” Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik concurred, adding that “at a time when traffic is reaching or surpassing record levels across the region, this project will enhance safety for motorists here in Queens and for all who travel this critical artery.”