Long Island, New York

Road Network of Long Island, New York

North America

According to Biotionary, Long Island is the largest of the 48 contiguous states in New York State. The island consists of Brooklyn and Queens, boroughs of New York City and Nassau and Suffolk County. When people talk about Long Island, they usually mean the part without Brooklyn and Queens. 7,804,000 inhabitants live on the island.


Long Island is an elongated island, measuring about 190 kilometers east-west and a maximum of 35 kilometers north-south. To the south of the island is the Atlantic Ocean, to the north the Long Island Sound that separates the island from the state of Connecticut. To the west flows the East River, which is actually a strait. The western two-thirds of the island is highly urbanized. The boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn are part of New York City and together have a population of 4,944,000. Nassau County has 1,359,000 residents and Suffolk County has 1,503,000 residents.

The island is mostly made up of suburbs in Nassau County, which are often relatively sparsely built with lots of greenery. Suffolk County is partially urbanized, but the east is rural. Queens and Brooklyn are highly urbanized. The north consists of bays, while along the south coast are a number of elongated barrier islands. Across Long Island are hills up to 122 meters high.

There are no obvious centers in Nassau and Suffolk County. Brooklyn and Queens are densely populated areas, but the real center of this area is Manhattan, which is west of Long Island.

Underlying road network

The island has several major subordinate links, such as Queens Boulevard, Northern Boulevard, and Linden Boulevard in Queens and the Jericho Turnpike, Hempstead Turnpike, Union Turnpike, and the Sunrise Highway in Nassau and Suffolk County. In addition, there are numerous regional roads that connect the work centers with each other. The rest are countless residential streets.


The first highways began construction on Long Island in the late 1920s under the direction of Robert Moses, who built numerous parkways in the 1930s and 1950s. Major east-west connections include the Northern State Parkway, Southern State Parkway, and the Long Island Expressway, northbound. South connections include the Meadowbrook State Parkway, Wantagh State Parkway, and Sagtikos State Parkway. Several smaller parkways complement this system.

River connections

All traffic from Long Island must at a minimum pass through Queens to reach the mainland. There are no connections over Long Island Sound further east, although there have been plans for a Long Island Sound connection to Connecticut. Most connections are bridges, such as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, Triborough Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, and the Throgs Neck Bridge. There are two tunnels, the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and theQueens Midtown Tunnel.

In addition, there are several bridges over the lagoons between Long Island and the barrier islands along the south coast such as the Robert Moses Causeway. Ferry services provide connections to Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Long Island Motor Parkway

An overpass of the Long Island Motor Parkway on 73rd Avenue in Queens.

The Long Island Motor Parkway (LIMP) was the world’s first road designed for exclusive use by motor vehicles. The road was also the first road in the world to have grade separated intersections, although it was not a highway. The road opened as a toll road in 1908 and was closed in 1938. Parts of it still exist as regular roads on Long Island, New York State to this day.


Racing fanatic William Vanderbilt was a great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt and wanted a safe road for exclusive use by cars, without pedestrians or horses. Races at the time did not always end well due to level crossings and rubbish on the road. Construction began in 1908, a year later than the Bronx River Parkway, but opened earlier, and featured grade-separated intersections, guard rails and reinforced concrete surfacing, making it the world’s first grade-separated road. The road was originally planned to be 115 kilometers long, from Queens to Riverhead, of which 70 kilometers was actually built, to Lake Ronkonkoma.

However, from the 1920s onward, design demands increased, and Robert Moses was planning the Northern State Parkway at the time, which would follow roughly the same route. Long Island politicians wanted the Long Island Motor Parkway to be converted to a highway, but Moses said the LIMP did not meet the design requirements due to the narrow roadway and steep bridge slopes. The completion of the Northern State Parkway marked the end of the Long Island Motor Parkway. The road was sold to New York State in 1938 and was subsequently closed. Parts of the route still exist on the current route, but have been converted to regular streets. There are, however, still some relics such as unused stretches of concrete road and a single viaduct.

Long Island Sound connection

Long Island is a 120-mile island that runs parallel to the coast of Connecticut from New York, east into the Atlantic Ocean. With the exception of the far east, this island is one large urban area. The island is home to 7.5 million people, who can only get off the island via the toll bridges between Queens and Brooklyn. The nearest landline connection is on Interstate 295 via the Throgs Neck Bridge, on the west of the island.

A connection between Long Island and mainland New York or Connecticut has long been considered. The most recent proposals talk about a tunnel between Rye in New York and Oyster Bay on Long Island. Such a tunnel would be about 9 kilometers long. A bridge or tunnel could reduce travel time by hours on some routes, but there are fears for the environmental consequences of a connection. There are some ferry services across the Long Island Sound.

Proposals over the years

Below is a list of serious proposals for a connection between Long Island and the mainland. The list goes from west to east.

Long Island Mainland Length Bridge/Tunnel Estimated cost Year of proposal
Sands Point New Rochelle 5.3 km Bridge $132 million 1971
Glen Covea Rye 7.4 km Bridge $150 million 1971
Oyster Bay Rye 9.8 km Bridge $168 million 1971
Oyster Bay Rye 9.8 km Tunnel 2001
Oyster Bay Rye 26 km* Tunnel $8 – 10 billion 2007
Northport Norwalk Bridge before 1971
Syosset Norwalk Tunnel 2001
Port Jefferson Bridgeport 23 km Bridge $219 / $368 million 1965 / 1968
Shoreham New Haven 31 km Bridge $565 million / $1.4 billion 1971 / 1979
Wading River East Haven Bridge 1979
Riverhead Guilford 32.3 km Bridge $510 / $720 million 1971 / 1979
East Marion Old Saybrook 16 km Bridge $206 / $390 / $640 million 1965 / 1971 / 1979
Orient Point East Lymea Tunnel 1966
Orient Point Watch Hill 24.7 km Bridge $392 / $639 million 1965 / 1971
Orient Point Groton 38.3 km Bridge $260 million 1963

* This tunnel would cover more than half the distance under land to connect to existing highways.

Long Island, New York