The Clearview Expressway Transformed Bayside

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

The Clearview Expressway’s path runs through Bayside, from the Throgs Neck Bridge to Hillside Avenue. It gives drivers a direct route to many of the community’s cultural and economic centers.

The Clearview Expressway’s path runs through Bayside, from the Throgs Neck Bridge to Hillside Avenue. It gives drivers a direct route to many of the community’s cultural and economic centers.

When it comes to major City projects, there are few that had as much of an impact on Bayside as the Clearview Expressway.

One of the later highway developments in the City, the Clearview Expressway was controversial when it was announced, as it cut right through residential neighborhoods. However, decades later, the highway helps to connect north and south Queens to a variety of important locales along its route.

The Clearview Expressway was designed to connect the Throgs Neck Bridge with the major east-west highways in Queens, namely the Grand Central Parkway and the Long Island Expressway. The initial recommendation for an arterial route came from the 1955 Joint Study of Arterial Facilities, by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and the Port of New York Authority.

According to Robert Caro’s book, “The Power Broker,” the concept of the Clearview Expressway was contentious among eastern Queens residents, who did not want a new highway cutting through their residential community. The book states that an anti-expressway torchlight rally ended with the protestors burning an effigy of Robert Moses.

The original Clearview Expressway proposal had the six-lane highway stretching from the Throgs Neck Bridge, which opened in 1961, to the Long Island Expressway. This proposal would have used the alignments of Utopia Parkway and Francis Lewis Boulevard for the highway. Once it got below the LIE, the expressway would have turned back into Francis Lewis Boulevard. However,  public outcry was so severe over this proposal that the route was moved east in 1956, to where the highway exists today. Although the expressway required the displacement of 421 homes, this was less than half of the number that would have been lost in the original route. Most of the homes were relocated to a new neighborhood built on the sites of the Bayside and Oakland golf courses.

In 1957, right-of-way acquisition and construction began for the Clearview Expressway. The highway was eligible for 90 percent federal funding as part of the Interstate Highway Network, covering most of its $50 million cost. Although it originally had a completion date of 1965, the project was expedited so the highway would be open in time for the 1964 World’s Fair. The stretch from the Throgs Neck to the LIE was completed in late 1960, while the remaining distance from the LIE to the Grand Central Parkway and Hillside Avenue wrapped up in the summer of 1963.

There was a plan to expand the Clearview Expressway further down, where it would run through the communities of Hollis, St. Albans and Springfield Gardens, and connect with the Nassau and Bushwick Expressways. However, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller terminated the plan in 1971 due to community concerns.

According to the State Dept. of Transportation, the Clearview Expressway has more than 90,000 vehicles traveling on it each day. The highway connects Queens and Bronx residents to many of Bayside’s most popular destinations. It starts next to the Clearview Golf Course, has an exit near the Bay Terrace mall and both the 35th Avenue and Northern Boulevard exits are blocks away from Bell Boulevard. Once you get below the LIE exit, the highway runs through Cunningham Park.

Although it may have had a controversial origin, the Clearview Expressway has since become a part of the Bayside community, giving its residents easy access to the rest of Queens and giving Queens the opportunity to explore its neighborhood.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @JoeMarvilli.