New Ramp from Westbound Union Turnpike to Westbound Grand Central Parkway Eases Traffic Flow
Redesigned Ramp on Eastbound Jackie Robinson Parkway Improves Travel to Grand Central Parkway
Ramps Constructed as Part of State Department of Transportation's Kew Gardens Interchange Phase 4 Project
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a major milestone in the Kew Gardens Interchange Phase 4 project in Queens. Construction has been completed on two newly reconfigured ramps that will enhance safety and reduce congestion along this heavily traveled commuter corridor used by hundreds of thousands of commuters each day to reach the John F. Kennedy International Airport and other key destinations throughout New York City and Long Island. The new ramps will provide easier connections for motorists entering the westbound Grand Central Parkway from the westbound Union Turnpike, and for those heading from the eastbound Jackie Robinson Parkway at Exit 8W to the Grand Central Parkway.
The new ramps, which will be fully open late Friday night, are a signature element of the State Department of Transportation's ongoing $365 million Phase 4 project, which will help to reduce backups, lesson vehicle emissions and facilitate continued economic growth across the entire Metropolitan Region.
"We are committed to building back our infrastructure to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and help our local communities flourish," Governor Hochul said. "These new ramps at the Kew Gardens Interchange will help alleviate congestion and make it easier for motorists to navigate this vital interchange, keeping goods and people on the move more safely."
The new ramp leading from westbound Union Turnpike to westbound Grand Central Parkway eliminates the previous need for motorists to come to a complete stop before entering the parkway, allowing traffic to merge more efficiently and reducing congestion on both roadways.
The new ramp from eastbound Jackie Robinson Parkway at Exit 8W to the westbound Grand Central Parkway was redesigned to reduce a significant curve that had previously existed on Exit 8W. The new ramp, which is carried on a new bridge structure, has standard lane and shoulder widths, which did not exist before. The project also increased the merge length from the eastbound Jackie Robinson Parkway to westbound Grand Central Parkway - which allowed for the removal of a stop sign at the end of the ramp - and upgraded the drainage systems. These upgrades will enable motorists to more safely and efficiently merge at this location.
Additionally, work on the rehabilitated Jackie Robinson Parkway Exit 8E to the eastbound Grand Central Parkway has also been completed.
Completion of the ramps follows the opening earlier this year of a new eastbound Grand Central Parkway Exit 13W ramp to the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway and the new southbound Van Wyck Expressway Exit 7 ramp, which were both included as part of Phase 4 of the Kew Gardens Interchange project. Bridges completed as part of Phase 4 include the westbound Union Turnpike bridge over Grand Central Parkway, the westbound Grand Central Parkway bridge to westbound Union Turnpike/Queens Boulevard, and the eastbound Union Turnpike bridge over the Grand Central Parkway.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "The Kew Gardens Interchange project is one of the Department of Transportation's top priorities and is a prime example of New York State's commitment to making smart investments in our infrastructure that foster resiliency, improve quality of life and promote economic growth. These new ramps will improve traffic flow, enhance safety and reduce congestion at one of the busiest interchanges in New York City."
Representative Grace Meng said, "As I have said, continued investment in our local roads and highways is crucial, particularly as we seek to upgrade our infrastructure and build back better. The completion of these new ramps, and the resulting improvements in safety and congestion reduction, will enhance travel for Queens residents, and all who use this stretch of highway. I thank Governor Hochul and the New York State Department of Transportation for continuing to move this project forward."
State Senator Leroy Comrie said, "I want to commend Governor Hochul and NYSDOT Commissioner Dominguez for completing the Kew Gardens Interchange Phase 4 Project. For far too long the bottleneck caused by the convergence of several major traffic arteries, the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, Jackie Robinson Parkway and Utopia Turnpike have been a major headache and source of frustration for motorists. As we continue to find ways to improve safety and reduce emissions, I am pleased that the completion of these new ramps will allow Queens drivers as well as visitors to the World's borough, better access and mobility to JFK and other parts of the city."
State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said, "The completion of these two ramps brings much-needed relief to the hundreds of thousands of daily drivers on the Kew Gardens Interchange. Motorists no longer need to worry about the construction going on in that area creating detours and confusion, and drivers will be thankful that the new ramps will ease congestion on these major roadways. I will be one of those thankful motorists, since I ride the interchange each time I travel to my Albany office. I thank the NYS DOT for their work on this portion of Phase 4 of their project."
Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal said, "As New York continues to rebuild from the devastating effects of this pandemic, it is crucial that we have the infrastructure to support a recovering economy. This latest development of the Kew Gardens Interchange project will benefit both my constituents and our city at large. I thank NYSDOT for their longstanding commitment to this initiative."
Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi said, "These ramps will ease traffic flow and provide additional safety measures for thousands of our neighbors that use this route every day. I'm grateful to Governor Hochul for the swift completion of this project."
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. said, "The completion of these ramps is another step forward in the ongoing improvement of Queens' transportation infrastructure. Motorists who use these ramps will now will experience safer and smoother rides thanks to their reconfiguration. The Kew Gardens Interchange project is a vitally important undertaking for our borough's transportation network, and I thank Governor Hochul and state Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez for making the project a priority."
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 over 200,000 vehicles daily. The New York State Department of Transportation is making a number of operational improvements through four construction contracts at the interchange worth almost $700 million. The four phases of the project are enhancing safety and improving traffic flow on Interstate 678 (Van Wyck Expressway), the Grand Central Parkway, and Jackie Robinson Parkway. Work on the first phase began in 2010 and the final phase is expected to conclude in 2022.
The completed Phase I project included widening a portion of the Van Wyck Expressway, and rehabilitating the exit ramp from the northbound Van Wyck to westbound Queens Boulevard, four bridges over the Van Wyck, the Van Wyck Bridge over Main Street and the Queens Boulevard Bridge over Main Street. This project also included constructing auxiliary lanes on both the northbound and southbound Van Wyck between the Grand Central Parkway and Main Street and provided a dedicated exit lane southbound to Hillside Avenue.
The completed Phase II project constructed a new, wider northbound Van Wyck Expressway viaduct, which carries three travel lanes now that Phase III is completed. In addition, it replaced the one-lane entrance ramp connecting the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike with the northbound Van Wyck Expressway with a new two-lane ramp. A new deck was installed on the eastbound Union Turnpike bridge over the Grand Central Parkway connector ramps, and a new deck and steel girders were installed on the bridge where Union Turnpike and the Jackie Robinson Parkway merge.
The completed Phase III replaced the existing deteriorated two-lane Van Wyck Expressway southbound viaduct over the Grand Central Parkway with a continuous three-lane viaduct, and constructed new exits to the westbound Union Turnpike and the Jackie Robinson Parkway. The three lanes from the Van Wyck Expressway also now merge with two lanes from the Grand Central Parkway over a longer distance.
Phase IV, ongoing, is tying together the improvements already made during the first three phases of construction. The project is installing five new bridges and replacing six existing bridges; widening travel lanes and shoulders; improving on and off ramps to enhance traffic flow; changing lane configurations for safer merging and exiting; improving sight distance; updating signage; and making lighting, drainage and landscaping improvements.
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