Interstate 495 is a very long road. It runs from the Queens Midtown Tunnel all the way east to Riverhead in Suffolk County. It was built in segments beginning in the 1950s and didn’t reach full length until the mid-1970s. Most motorists know it as I-495, the Long Island Expressway, the LIE,or perhaps “the world’s longest parking lot.” It differs from Long Island’s many parkways in that it can accept trucks and buses.
The LIE bisects Queens, running straight through its midsection. However, the Department of Transportation does not acknowledge the “Long Island Expressway” name in its signage, instead calling the LIE and its service roads a variety of names.
East of Queens Boulevard and west of the Nassau County line, things are fairly straightforward. It was built along the former route of Nassau Boulevard and was named the Horace Harding Expressway for a financier and friend of NYC traffic czar Robert Moses. Its service roads also carry the Horace Harding Expressway name.
East of the tunnel, and west of Queens Boulevard, I-495 is officially named the Queens-Midtown Expressway. It was constructed beginning in the 1940s along the route of Borden Avenue, a road that runs by itself between the tunnel plaza and 2nd Street near the East River.
East of 30th Street, where I-495 runs in Borden Avenue’s old path, there are service roads north and south of it. Depending on what side of bed the Department of Transportation crew foreman woke up on, those service roads are signed wither “Borden Avenue” or “Queens Midtown Expressway” — with one exception, which I’ll get to presently.
Historically, Borden Avenue ended at Grand Avenue at 69th Street in Maspeth. And dutifully, there are no more Borden Avenue signs east of there. The service roads between 69th Street and Queens Boulevard are all signed “Queens Midtown Expressway.” At Queens Boulevard, “Horace Harding Expressway” signs take over.
…with one exception. There is a lone “Long Island Expressway” street sign at 48th street, shown here. NYC DOT zealously avoids mentioning the Long Island Expressway anywhere else in Queens but here.