|Van Wyck Expressway is properly pronounced Van Wike, although legions of locals haphazardly refer to it as Van Wick. Named for turn-of-the-previous century Tammany Hall supported New York City mayor Robert Van Wyck, the original Van Wyck Expressway of Queens, New York City, extended from the Grand Gentral Parkway in Kew Gardens, down to what was then called Idlewild Airport, which was renamed after JFK's assassination in 1963 to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In the 1960's, in preparation for the 1964-65 World's Fair, the Van Wyck was stetched northward through Briarwood, Kew Gardens Hills and past Flushing Meadows Park into Downtown Flushing, where its Interstate designation I-678 is passed on to the Whitestone Expressway. The original section runs from Kew Gardens through Jamaica and Ozone Park before interchanging with the Belt Parkway and Nassau Expressway and ducking under taxying jets in the airport. The northbound trek from both the airport and eastbound Nassau is usually a nightmare, even late at night, although on its worst days it still can't hold a candle to the morass that drivers face on the westbound Cross-Bronx Expressway. Motorists heading east on the Belt from Brooklyn can often make better time heading north via Cross Bay/Woodhaven Boulevards, a couple of miles to the Van Wyck's west. Those coming from the east might be advised to take either Francis Lewis or Springfield Boulevards to get north, or the Cross Island Parkway. The Van Wyck Expressway is also not very tourist friendly, which is not good considering it is often the first thing in the United States that many travelers have to deal with. For years, the moment one left the airport, this foul tempered highway greeted them with the asphalt version of a middle finger, jolting them with a volcanic eruption in its pavement on the overpass spanning the Belt. The NY DOT didn't see fit to fix this until recently. For several years leading up to the fall of 2003, construction proceeded full blast ahead on the Port Authority Airtrain, a light rail elevated viaduct stretching north up to Jamaica from JFK Airport. The older photos displayed here from 1999 barely reflect the current look of the highway, which has already transformed into an utterly different animal south of Archer Avenue. As I write this update near the end of 2003, service on the Airtrain, which I've often referred to as AirStain, has already begun, despite many accidents during its endless testing phase. Whether it at least relieves any of the Van Wyck Expressway's notorious congestion remains to be seen. I'll be happy if it exists without dumping a derailed Airtrain car on the hapless motorists below.|
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