Editor’s note: This article is part of a series in which Newsday attempts to answer questions from Long Islanders about life on the Island. If there’s a question you want us to answer, send it to us here.
Why isn’t there an Exit 47 on the Long Island Expressway?
The short answer: This exit is indeed missing, and in fact, Exit 54 is missing, too. Exit 47 was never built. Exit 54 was in use at one time, but eventually closed to improve traffic conditions.
The long answer: The construction of the Long Island Expressway began in 1939 in Long Island City, Queens. Over the next three decades, it extended deep into Suffolk County, reaching its last exit, 73, in 1972.
Most of the expressway’s construction was supervised by New York’s master builder Robert Moses. He had big plans for Exit 47.
Moses wanted to extend the Bethpage State Parkway’s northern tip in Bethpage all the way to Lloyd Harbor on the North Shore. The highway was to reach today’s Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve, and the extension above the Northern State Parkway would have been renamed the Caumsett State Parkway.
To reach Lloyd Harbor, the extension would inevitably intersect with the LIE. Exit 47 was specifically marked for this proposed intersection.
But the Bethpage State Parkway extension remained only a proposal as late as the 1970s. In 1986, Newsday reported that the proposal was dead.
Other exits on the expressway only let out on one side of the highway, but Exit 54 -- like Exit 47 -- is missing in both directions. When 54 was an up-and-running exit, it let out onto Wicks Road in Brentwood and was the most heavily trafficked segment of the expressway through the 1980s, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The LIE was designed to accommodate 85,000 cars per day at the time, according to a 1986 Newsday story. The DOT found that 143,900 cars were driving past Exit 54 each day.
In the Newsday story, the DOT pointed to the relatively new Hauppauge Industrial Park, which was becoming Long Island’s largest industrial complex, and the design of the LIE’s eastbound right lane as the sources of the traffic.
The right lane had to accommodate both cars trying to get onto the LIE from the Sagtikos Parkway at Exit 53 and those trying to get out at Exit 54. With cars both entering and exiting the LIE in the same lane, the rush-hour congestion led to some necessary changes.
Exit 54 was closed in 1990. Exit 53 became the replacement exit for 54, with service roads added to bring commuters to Wicks Road.
So chalk up this little Long Island mystery to unexecuted plans and the Long Islander’s worst enemy: traffic.