Staten Island Expressway

From Academic Kids

The Staten Island Expressway is a 7.7 mile (12.39 km) long highway running through the borough of Staten Island, New York in the United States. It is designated as Interstate 278. Its western terminus is the Goethals Bridge linking the island to New Jersey over the Arthur Kill. The eastern terminus is the Verrazano Narrows Bridge linking to Brooklyn over the Narrows. Named the Clove Lakes Expressway when originally proposed, it opened under its actual name in November of 1964, the same month the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was completed.

It connects to the West Shore Expressway, as well as to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway (formerly the Willowbrook Parkway), both of which are designated as segments of New York State Highway 440. Including these two interchanges, the expressway has a total of 13 exits, six of which are one-directional.

In addition to local traffic on Staten Island, the freeway provides the most direct route from Brooklyn and Long Island to central and southern New Jersey.

The Staten Island Expressway is widely regarded as an important demographic boundary since, due to coincidence or not, virtually all of the island's African-American population, and the vast majority of its Hispanic population, resides in the approximately one-fourth of the island's total area which is situated north of the expressway. The portion of the island north of the highway is also coterminous with the territory served by the 120th Precinct of the NYPD, one of the three police precincts located on Staten Island, and also one of the island's three Community Board districts.


The creation of the Expressway was extremely controversial. It was designed by Robert Moses in 1946 as part of a comprehensive system of freeways and parkways for the borough. The plan received approval in stages through the mid 1950s and construction on the expressway began in 1959. Moses was notorious for pushing through his projects in spite of local opposition. Like many of Moses' projects in other boroughs, the freeway uprooted existing local neighborhoods without mercy.

The construction of the Staten Island Expressway was particularly noted for the massive movement of earth required to build the section of the highway between Clove Road and Price Street (now Narrows Road North, a service road of the expressway) between Grymes Hill and Emerson Hill. The earth removed from the cut in the hill was placed in a remote section of central Staten Island adjacent to Sea View Hospital and has since been nicknamed "Moses Mountain," as a backhanded compliment to the highway's builder. Originally Moses intended for a spur of the expressway to follow the central ridge of the island, to connect with the Outerbridge Crossing. But local opposition to this spur was tremendous, and unlike previous projects by Moses, it went down to defeat, largely due to the re-election of Nelson Rockefeller, a headstrong opponent of Moses, as governor of New York in 1966; the southern half of this proposed spur did get built, however, and was opened for traffic in the autumn of 1972 as the Richmond Parkway, which was to be the name of the entire roadway.

The aborted section, from the Expressway to Richmond Avenue, has become part of the park system of New York City known as the Staten Island Greenbelt. A ghost ramp of an interchange on the expressway still exists along a wooded section of Todt Hill. Part of the trail system of the Greenbelt uses the abandoned overpass bridge as pedestrian crossing of the Expressway.


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