New York Road Network

By | October 13, 2022

The Empire State Plaza in Albany.

New York has a large highway network, although the highway network is mainly centered around the major cities, there are only 3 major highways for through traffic. The metropolitan area of New York has a gigantic highway network, which, however, is very outdated and has a great lack of capacity. In addition, the agglomerations of Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester have a somewhat oversized highway network because the agglomerations have fallen far short of their projected populations. It is true, however, that the current highway networks would not have been sufficient if those agglomerations had grown so large.

  • Bittranslators: State overview of New York, including geography, economy, population and history as well as introduction to major cities of New York.

Road management

The road authority in the state is the New York State Department of Transportation, abbreviated NYSDOT. It has its origins in the New York State Department of Highways founded in 1909. Before that, there was already the Department of Public Works from 1878. NYSDOT was formed in 1967. The state has approximately 182,000 kilometers of roads and 17,400 bridges, of which the Interstate Highways, US Highways, State Routes, Reference Routes and Parkways are operated by the State of New York. The road network managed by NYSDOT is 24,330 kilometers.

  • Deluxesurveillance: Nickname of New York as The Empire State. Also covers geography, history, economy, politics and administration of the state.

Interstate Highways

New York State’s Interstate Highway network.

Main routes

A large number of Interstate Highways cross New York State. In particular, there are many auxiliary routes in the urban areas. Interstate 81 forms a north-south route through the center of the state and is the northernmost portion of a major truck corridor from the south to the northeastern United States. However, the portion of I-81 in New York handles less truck traffic than portions of states further south. The Interstate 84 traverses the south of the state, and is one of the possible boundaries between Upstate and Downstate New York. I-84 primarily handles through traffic from northeast Pennsylvania toward Connecticut. I-84 has one of the relatively few bridges over the Hudson River. Interstate 86, also known as the ‘Southern Tier Expressway’, is an east-west route through the southern counties of Upstate New York. The highway begins in Erie, Pennsylvania and runs through Elmira and Binghamton into the Hudson Valley and is an upgrade of State Route 17. Interstate 87 is the state’s main north-south route, beginning in New York City and passing through Albany. to Montreal in Canada. The southern portion is part of the New York State Thruway.

Interstate 88 is a shorter east-west route between Binghamton and Schenectady in Upstate New York. Interstate 90 is the main east-west route, passing through Upstate New York through the region’s major cities, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany. The entire route is a toll road, part of the New York State Thruway. Interstate 95 runs quite briefly through New York, from New Jersey to Connecticut, but is a vital connection for through traffic along the East Coast and cuts right through New York City.. I-95 is a major truck corridor and one of the state’s most congested highways. The highway passes over the iconic George Washington Bridge. Interstate 99 runs just a few miles into the state and ends west of Elmira.

Auxiliary routes

The urban areas have numerous auxiliary routes of the Interstate Highways. These are loops, spurs and bypasses of the major cities. The auxiliary routes not covered by a major city are Interstate 587 in Kingston, Interstate 781 at Watertown, and Interstate 790 in Utica. I-90 in New York is the only Interstate Highway in the United States with all auxiliary routes in use (I-190, 290, 390, 490, 590, 690, 790, 890, and 990). I-990 is also the highest Interstate number in use.

New York City

The George Washington Bridge ( I-95 ) between Manhattan, New York and Fort Lee, New Jersey.

The Trans-Manhattan Expressway (I-95).

In New York City, Interstate 278 is an important and extremely congested route through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. The highway crosses three major bridges, the Goethals Bridge, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Triborough Bridge. Interstate 287 should theoretically form a regional bypass around the north and west sides of the metropolitan area, but in practice it is so far that much traffic prefers to follow I-95 through the city. The I-287 passes over the large Tappan Zee Bridge. Interstate 295 forms a north-south route through The Bronx and Queens and crosses the Throgs Neck Bridge. The Interstate 478 provides a short connection between Brooklyn and Manhattan and is largely formed by the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Interstate 495 is the main highway across Long Island, crossing this immense suburban area from west to east. The highway is known as the Long Island Expressway. Interstate 678 forms a north-south route between Queens and The Bronx and is the primary connection to John F. Kennedy Airport. The highway carries over the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge. Interstate 684 is a north-south route in the northern suburbs and is an alternate route to Connecticut. Interstate 695 and Interstate 895 are short connections in The Bronx.


In Buffalo, Interstate 190 connects Buffalo and Niagara Falls. This is also a transit route to Ontario. Interstate 290 forms the northern part of the Buffalo Beltway and Interstate 990 is a spur to the northeastern suburbs.


The city of Rochester is a short distance from I-90 and is connected to Elmira via Interstate 390. I-390 is the longest auxiliary route in Upstate New York, measuring 122 kilometers. Interstate 490 connects Rochester with I-90 toward Buffalo and Syracuse and is the primary approach road into the city from I-90. Interstate 590 forms part of the beltway in the southeast of the city.


In the city of Syracuse, Interstate 481 forms the eastern beltway, but the low amount of congestion on I-81 through Syracuse means that most through traffic is on I-81, not using I-481. Interstate 690 is the east-west route through downtown, partly because I-90 runs further north past the city.


In the capital Albany, Interstate 787 opens up the center because I-87 and I-90 run wider around the city as a toll road. Interstate 890 is a connection between Rotterdam and Schenectady, west of Albany.

US Highways

The number of US Highways in New York State is relatively small for the size of the state, both in area and population. Many eastern states have many US Highways, but New York has only 13 routes. US 1 is the historic route from New York to Boston and is known as the Boston Post Road. I-95 runs parallel to it, allowing US 1 to handle mostly local traffic in the city and suburbs of New York City. US 2 runs only 1 kilometer through New York, while US 4 only runs through the far east, from Albany to the border with Vermont. US 6 is an east-west route through the Hudson Valley, paralleled by I-84. The US 9 is historically the state’s main north-south route, running south along the Hudson River bank between New York City and Albany. US 9 continues to the border with Canada near Champlain and I-87 is built parallel to it. Partly because of the parallel running Taconic State Parkway, US 9 has a somewhat secondary importance between New York and Albany. US 11 has traditionally been the main north-south route through the center of the state, but has been replaced by I-81 as far as Watertown. However, US 11 curves further north from I-81 and travels through the far north of the state to Rouses Point in far northeast New York.

US 15 forms a short route in southern Upstate New York and has been completely transformed into I-99. US 20 has historically been the main east-west route through the state, but remarkably it runs just outside the cities of Rochester and Syracuse, as well as through Buffalo and Albany. US 20 has been replaced by I-90. US 44 is a somewhat secondary route through the Hudson Valley in the Kingston area and is of little importance to through traffic, although there is no Interstate Highway directly parallel to it. US 62 forms the north-south route from the west of the state, via Buffalo to Niagara Falls.

US 202 forms a route through the Hudson Valley at the northern end of the New York metropolitan area. The road crosses many north-south roads but itself is not of great importance, despite there being no highway directly parallel to it. US 209 is a diagonal connection in the Hudson Valley from the Pennsylvania border to Lake Katrine on the Hudson River just north of Kingston. US 219 is an alternate north-south route in the west of the state and is partly freeway in Buffalo. This is the only US Highway in New York to be operated as a freeway.

State Routes

The state routes are referred to as a “touring route” by the New York State Department of Transportation. These are numbered from 1 to 899. Non-signposted state routes are so-called reference routes in the numbering 900 to 999. Legislative routes were introduced as early as 1908, unnumbered roads that were referred to as state roads. In 1924, the first state routes were numbered and signposted. In 1924 there were only 29 state routes. This number grew in the second half of the 1920s and in 1930 the network was renumbered with numerous routes between 100 and 300 allocated. The number of state routes has been considerably expanded.

New York state has relatively many state routes, which can be explained by the relatively thin network of US Highways. A secondary road with some through importance between the towns is therefore more of a state route than US Highway. The state of New York is somewhat of an exception on the east coast of the United States. State routes range from simple winding two-lane roads to freeways, mostly in urban areas. The primary freeway that was a state route was State Route 17, which has largely been converted to Interstate 86 through the southern counties of Upstate New York. In some cities like Rochester and Syracuse, state route freeways have the number that connects to Interstate Highways, or fits within that system.

The state routes that have been developed as freeways;

  • NY-7 and NY-85 in Albany.
  • NY-33, NY-198 and NY-400 in Buffalo.
  • NY-27 and NY-440 in New York City.
  • NY-104, NY-390, NY-531 and NY-590 in Rochester.
  • NY-481 and NY-695 in Syracuse.
  • NY-8 and NY-49 in Utica.


There are many parkways in New York that have been developed as a controlled-access highway, but where freight traffic is not always allowed. Most of these are in and around New York City and are major highways. The parkways are numbered with a reference route. In addition to the New York area, parkways have been constructed as freeways or 2×2 divided highways in other parts of the state, especially in the northwest part of the state, around Buffalo and Rochester.

Toll roads

Around New York City, many bridges and tunnels have to pay tolls. However, there are no general toll roads in the New York City metropolitan area. The New York State Thruway is a long toll road on which I-90 runs from the Pennsylvania border via Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse to Albany, and then I-87 south between Albany and New York. There is also the Berkshire Connector, which connects to the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Tolls are payable on all bridges over the Hudson River between New York and Albany. Tolls must also be paid on all bridges on the border with Canada, both on the bridges near Buffalo and Niagara Falls and over the St. Lawrence in northern New York.


I-87 / Major Deegan Expressway in The Bronx, New York City.

The history of the highway network begins in the 1920s, when New York City ‘s first parkways were built. Beginning in the 1930s, the parkway system was extensively expanded, particularly in the Hudson Valley and Long Island. These highways are substandard by today’s standards, but they fulfilled the function of a highway as it is today. Beginning in 1950, work began on the New York State Thruway, a long toll road from the Pennsylvania border through Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, and Newburgh to New York City. This highway served all major cities in the state and was completed in 1956. The Creation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956 made it possible to build toll-free highways on a large scale. Most Interstate Highways opened during the 1960s and early 1970s. A number of short urban or suburban freeways opened in Upstate New York after the mid-1970s, but freeway construction in New York City had been halted since the early 1970s and has never resumed since. The state highway network is characterized by many substandard stretches, many highways have barely changed since they were built in the 1960s and 1970s. The depopulation of the major cities in Upstate New York has prevented many traffic jams here, a situation that was different in New York City, where extreme traffic congestion occurs.

New York Road Network