Gov. Kathy Hochul on Dec. 5 announced that the $739 million Kew Gardens Interchange project is finally complete after nearly four decades of stops and starts, much like the chronic traffic jams that confounded generations of motorists who navigated it.
The multiphase reconstruction addressed several key challenges in the heavily traveled commuter corridor, stemming from the structural and operational deficiencies of the old infrastructure.
“The transformation of this vital interchange near one of New York’s major airports is the latest accomplishment in our efforts to modernize the state’s transportation network,” Hochul said. “The complete overhaul of Kew Gardens Interchange will provide a safer, less congested network of roads — improving the travel experience for nearly 600,000 daily motorists, enhancing quality of life and boosting the regional economy for decades to come.”
The Kew Gardens Interchange is the complex intersection of the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike, serving nearly 600,000 vehicles daily. In the past, major deficiencies throughout the interchange contributed to congestion and higher-than-average accident rates.
“The successful overhaul of the Kew Gardens Interchange, located just outside Queens Borough Hall, is a significant achievement and a major milestone in our continued push to modernize Queens’ transportation infrastructure,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. “Drivers and commuters who travel through the interchange to reach my office and other destinations across Queens will now experience safer and smoother rides while reducing congestion and cutting commute times.”
The revamped Interchange allows for faster travel times, safer merging and exiting, and more reliable connections for the hundreds of thousands of commuters, travelers and local businesses who use it daily to reach JFK Airport and other key destinations throughout the region. It features 22 new bridges, three rehabilitated bridges, wider travel lanes, new lane configurations, updated signage, upgraded stormwater drainage, and a new dedicated shared-use path for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“The completion of this multistage project brings brand new travel infrastructure to this vital roadway,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “The Kew Gardens Interchange will allow commuters better access to the many points of interest around Queens, including JFK Airport. By making these roads easier and safer to travel — for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike — it will benefit commuters who use these roads every day as well as those traveling through our city.”
The project further reconstructed the stormwater drainage system to mitigate the existing roadway flooding, specifically along Grand Central Parkway, Union Turnpike and Jackie Robinson Parkway.
Additionally, the project addressed pedestrian safety, creating a dedicated shared-use path that provides access to the Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike subway station and includes bicycle access to and from existing bicycle paths. The dedicated path eliminates a pedestrian route that previously forced pedestrians to utilize three crossings with substantial high-speed vehicular traffic.
“Strong, up-to-date infrastructure is the backbone of our communities. This will connect people from across Queens and also make commutes much safer for thousands of drivers, bikers and walkers. I speak for all of our neighbors when extending our gratitude to state DOT and Governor Hochul for having the vision and the wherewithal to effectively carry out this massive undertaking.”