Expressway I-278, westbound, as it descends down from the viaduct portion
of the highway at 65th street. At this location, the expressway was originally
designed for 12 lanes in order to accommodate an interchange for the Gowanus
Expressway and the planned Cross-Brooklyn Expressway.
Why a Virtual Tour of the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway?
The Cross-Brooklyn Expressway is a highway that I have been interested in ever since I was a young child. I would take many trips throughout the metropolitan area with my Grandfather when I was a kid. Some of my relatives lived in Brooklyn, and my Grandfather and I would take trips to visit with them. Since my Grandfather's house was located in Lynbrook, Long Island, we had to take the Sunrise Highway to the Belt Parkway in order to travel west to locales in Brooklyn. Inevitably, the Belt Parkway would always be jammed with traffic. It would take us countless number of hours to get to our destination due to being stuck in traffic. Lynbrook was only fifteen to twenty miles to one of many neighborhoods in Brooklyn - whether it be Flatbush, Bushwick, or Bensonhurst - or any one of the other neighborhoods that we made our way to. "If only Lindsay let Moses build the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway, we wouldn't have to sit in this traffic jam every time we make this tip out here!", my Grandfather would exclaim. Aside from my Grandfather's politically incorrect stance that building more highways yields to less highway congestion, he must have mentioned the building of the Cross-Brooklyn expressway hundreds of times during my travels! Unfortunately for my Grandfather, with Moses' power was dwindling and New York City mayor Lindsay constantly defeating the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority's Cross-Brooklyn proposals, the highway never did get built. Luckily for me, I would get to spend countless numbers of hours stuck on the "damn Belt" listening to my Grandfather's wonderful stories. I will always remember those times that we shared together.
A couple of years ago, while searching on the web for information pertaining to New York City highways, I came across Steve Anderson's highly respected nycroads.com web site. The first day I visited his site, I spent nearly five hours devouring all of the information related to the expressways and parkways in New York City and the metropolitan area. One of the links on Steve's site is "Unbuilt Roads" section. It is at this link that I saw information pertaining to the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway.
Now that OldNYC.com has a web presence, I decided to combine my enjoyment of documenting little-used and abandoned railroad lines with the story of a planned expressway, and present the information to OldNYC.com readers in the virtual tour format. On the day after Thanksgiving, 2000, I ventured alone to walk the Right of Way of the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch. As you will see, much of the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway was to utilize the railroad ROW for the expressway's ROW. A tour along the ROW was in order.
Before I continue, I will say this: I will never walk the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch ROW again for a couple of reasons:
The Cross-Brooklyn Expressway tour is non-political in nature. It's a tour that basically asks "what if" this road had been built, and examining the various environmental attributes that engineers would have had to face while being challenged to integrate this expressway in to the surrounding landscape. Aside from many of the facts that were gathered from Steve's nycroads.com web site, I have taken the liberty to add my own commentary, thoughts and ideas about this particular project.
The tour is divided in to sections, based upon the 1966 Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Blauvelt proposal. Sections 1 thru Sections 5 are currently represented on OldNYC.com, since these sections of the plan follow the LIRR Bay Ridge branch Right-of-Way. Sections 6 thru Section 7 will be covered at a later date. Some of the information throughout the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway virtual tour was gleaned from Steve Anderson's nycroads.com, with his permission.
In order to learn about all of the historical aspects of the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway, I would recommend that you first familiarize yourself with the proposed plans for the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway. To do that, please click on the following link that will take you to Steve Anderson's nycroads.com site, Cross-Brooklyn Expressway section (a new browser window will open when the site loads):
Now that you know the history of the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway, let's continue with the virtual tour!
map of the route of the Long Island Railroad Bay Ridge Branch right-of-way.
Most of the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway's right-of-way would have been aligned
with the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch right-of-way.
Map provided by Harry Hassler; original map creator unknown.
This is an overhead shot of the Gowanus Expressway, taken on the 7th Avenue overpass. Westbound (Staten Island bound) traffic is coming towards us on the left, and the eastbound Gowanus Expressway (Queens, Bronx bound) is on the right. The highway curves in order to allow westbound traffic coming from the viaduct to go in to the trench, and the eastbound traffic to link up with the viaduct-portion of the Gowanus that begins at 65th Street.
It is at this section that the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway viaduct would have met with the Gowanus/Cross-Brooklyn merge.
Notice the HOV lane, a fairly recent addition to the eastbound Gowanus
The Gowanus Expressway, looking westbound (eastbound traffic on the left coming towards us). The photo was taken on the 7th Avenue Viaduct.
Notice how wide the expressway in this area is. It was designed
this way to allow for the Gowanus/Cross-Brooklyn interchange.
Westbound traffic comes down from the viaduct as the viaduct ends and the expressway resumes a grade-level right of way.
Notice how much land is between the expressway and the surrounding area.
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