New York Roads - I-87 - Northway


Many of the photos on these page are from Averill Hecht, and many date to April of 1991. The two shields above are no exceptions.

Another Averill photo, which you can tell is old because the signs in the background are button copy (well, maybe you can't tell that). It's interesting that this counts as Mile 0, because it's neither Mile 0 of I-87 nor Mile 0 of the Northway. The Northway (secret NY 910F) began at US 20, and was intended to go south from there to I-787 as a free local road parallel to the Thruway - literally in its shadow the entire way. The Thruway didn't like that, and prevented I-87 from coming down that free road and entering the Thruway at Exit 23 instead. Both ends of this proposed highway are stubby, with overpowered ramps at the southern end of I-787 leading into local streets. The Northway stub is linked at bottom, and the above-linked I-787 page has photos from the other stub. To get back on track, I-87 NB has yet to merge from the right in this photo, meaning that the MILE 0 is an arbitrary legislative definition. I think a lot of people wish I-87 numbering would be consistent between the Major Deegan Expressway, New York Thruway, and Northway.

Getting even older, these SB signs were taken in 1977 by Michael Summa. Three big changes since then: shields for state highways, no more tenths of miles on advance signs, and shields aren't button copy.

New in 2009 is the onset of construction of a new interchange here at Exit 6. It will become a single point urban interchange, or SPUI, with all ramp movements occurring at the top center of the bridge. For now, the new pieces of the future overpass are just starting to get set in place. Still at the top of the NB ramp are scratchily faded NY 2 shields, with perfectly decent NY 7 shields, that typify the interchange where 7 joins I-87 for a short trip north and 2 begins to the east.

The ramp was mostly open in September of 2010, but the SPUI was still coming together, with temporary signals strung everywhere and new concrete being laid right over the old asphalt ramp. I wish the signs were temporary as well. When a font says 16" upper case and 12" lower case, you're supposed to just use the 16" font because the shorter lower-case height is built in. This looks like a 12" font, resulting in 9" lower case letters.

I-87 NB as the Northway (between Albany and Canada). Another "cut-out" BGS and a cool route/exit coincidence, the second on I-87! (The first is on the Thruway.)

Crossing the Mohawk River, northbound. The original Erie Canal is slightly cut off by I-87, but the river is wide and gentle enough at this point for that not to matter.

I left the location of this sign in the photo for you; it's on the north shore of the Mohawk River and only serves very local traffic. Click for closeup of the original state-name shield and arrow.

On the western side of Exit 22 is a scenic pull-out with this recent (1986) but still embossed Lake George sign. The scenery is to the east; click on either photo for a closeup. Roadgeeky tidbit: Although the roadway leading from Exit 22 to NY 9N is a short freeway (secret route 912Q), the I-87 SB exit comes to a T with it; traffic entering I-87 SB can go straight through. The pull-out is arranged such that traffic leaving I-87 SB turns right at the T onto the onramp, but then bears right into the parking lot; traffic leaving the parking lot pulls out onto the SB offramp, and then can either re-enter I-87 SB or head into Lake George. Traffic between the pull-out and I-87 NB can simply take the intermediate exit on the mini-freeway, at US 9.

Northbound through the Adirondacks and the morning fog at sunrise. In the last photo is a rare effect known as a parhelion, or more commonly as a sundog. It's typically seen at high latitudes when a combination of particles in the air (dust, ice, what have you) and the angle of the sun's rays lead to halos and bright spots ringing the sun. In this case, one of the bright spots sits directly atop I-87; I don't know if there were any others, because I was focused on getting this one with the proper camera settings.

There is no shortage of scenery, but I'll move back to a road photo. By state law, most overpasses in New York are posted at a foot lower than actual clearance. This may be because trucks tend to try to use Parkways illegally and get stuck under overpasses a lot; other states don't have a developed cars-only roadway network and therefore overpost by no more than six inches. So in this case, to avoid posting an overpass at less than 14 feet on an Interstate, NYSDOT gives in and shows actual clearance. I did not see another of these on the northbound Northway, so I'm guessing this one will be coming down soon as well.

Based on the second photo, I assume the first one is also NB and that both are from 1976. I know both are courtesy Michael Summa.

More Canadian infiltration, first two photos courtesy Doug Kerr. Interesting that their autoroute signs are a darker blue than our Interstate signs; if you follow the A-15 link at bottom you'll see Québec's version of the I-87 shield.

Just across the border heading SB, a poorly designed but well-intentioned hint to Canadians.

Views of the customs booths on each side of the Canadian border. On the right, a small road dead-ends precisely at the border. This happens to be US 9's actual end (a long time ago, it went through customs instead), though the NB end is signed at the last I-87 onramp.

The remainder of the photos are courtesy Averill Hecht.

After 1967, the forest really went downhill. Northbound near Warrensburg, taken in 1996 when the Northway was, ironically, Northern New York's Most Scenic Highway. It still is. Always will be.

Northbound run of April 1991 button copy, approaching the United States of Canada. Look kids, even back then (for US 9) there were sign errors! Click on the next-to-last photo for a closeup; these are scans of photographs, so it's a little grainy.

The car gives it away - this is a modern photo. Since 100 km/h is 62+ MPH, you would think New York would err on the conservative side. I think they just wanted to one-up the 100 speed limit in Québec, but now when French-speaking natives get pulled over for doing 66, they won't understand what they did wrong.

Southward on I-87 to the New York Thruway
South on the Northway (secret 910F)
Back to the I-87 main page

Exit 1 to I-90
Exit 2 to NY 5
Exit 6 to NY 2
Exit 6 or 7 to NY 7
Exit 33 or 43 to US 9
Exit 33 or 38 to NY 22
Into Canada on Autoroute 15
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