This 2002 photo shows the northbound Loop Parkway leaving Point Lookout. A multi-year reconstruction of the parkway was completed in 1999. New replica lightposts were installed in 2001. (Photo by Jon Lebowitz.)
A SHORT PARKWAY CONNECTION TO POINT LOOKOUT: The Loop Parkway serves as a spur connecting barrier beach communities in Nassau County with mainland Long Island and Jones Beach State Park. Originally called the Long Beach Causeway, the Loop Parkway connects the Meadowbrook State Parkway near Jones Beach with Lido Boulevard in Point Lookout.
Like the causeway connecting the Meadowbrook Parkway with Jones Beach, the Loop Parkway was constructed on hydraulic fill over marsh and islands on lands donated to New York State by the Town of Hempstead. The parkway, which is comprised of two 24-foot-wide, two-lane roadways separated by an 18-foot-wide grassed median, handles approximately 25,000 vehicles per day (AADT). Since it lies south of Merrick Road for its entire length, the parkway can legally accommodate commercial vehicles.
The Loop Parkway, which has no exits between the two termini, recently underwent a two-year-long project that saw construction of new roadways, rehabilitation of the parkway's three channel crossings, and installation of new signs, wooden guardrails and sand-filled impact attenuators. The new lighting fixtures (installed in 2001) are replicas of the original wooden lightposts, but reflect modern design standards.
Former tollbooth worker Gene Biancheri provided the following story on the former toll plaza on the Loop Parkway:
One summer evening I was working a 4:00 PM to 1:00 AM shift at the "Loop" toll -- motorists returning from Long Beach/Lido Beach had the option of paying to enter Jones Beach or, on the other side of the single toll booth, they could take the ramp to Meadowbrook Parkway. Late at night there were few customers, so I would sit there in my simulated uniform: cotton whites and a blue blazer with a seahorse emblem (part of Robert Moses' navy).
A car appeared on the horizon and I jumped up to open the tollbooth door. The driver pulled up in the lane going to Jones Beach and asked if it was the road to NYC. I told him he had to go on the other side of the booth. He backed up, then shot straight through the other side, without paying the toll. I copied his license plate number and called the Long Island State Parkway police, telling them that a car had "run the toll." I gave a very official report: it was a dark-colored passenger car with a NY State plate number "7 UP." At first, I thought it might have been related to "United Press"; only later did I realize it was likely connected with the owners of the famous bottled drink.
At 1:00 AM I closed down my operation at the booth, as there were no tolls collected until 7:00 AM. The next evening when I reported to work, the supervisor told me that there was a note from the Parkway police: they had apprehended the toll-beater on Meadowbrook Parkway, collected the $.35 and it was enclosed for me in an envelope. I told him I had already turned in my collections at the revenue office and had no way to add another thirty-five cents. He didn't want any part of the episode and suggested I toss it into the next evening's collection receipts.
An interesting aside: this toll booth would be the same one depicted in Mario Puzo's novel, "The Godfather," where Sonny Corleone was brutally gunned down by rival mobsters, after leaving the family compound at Long Beach. But I was disappointed that in the movie version, the scene didn't look like the booth I spent many a lonely vigil, waiting to collect those small tolls that often didn't cover my hourly pay of ninety cents.
A PROPOSED CONNECTION TO THE NASSAU EXPRESSWAY? In the 1950's and 1960's, the Loop Parkway was proposed to connect with the eastern terminus of the Nassau Expressway (NY 878) in Point Lookout. Opposition from the barrier beach communities of Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, Lido Beach, and Point Lookout stopped the east-west expressway.
SOURCES: "The Ocean Drive," Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (1966); The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro, Vintage Books-Random House (1974); History of the Long Island State Parkway System, New York State Department of Transportation (1985); "Planners' Legacy: Long Island's Ghost Highways" by William Bunch, Newsday (9/21/1986); Robert Moses: Single-Minded Genius by Joann P. Krieg, Heart of the Lakes Publishing (1989); New York Metropolitan Transportation Council; Gene Biancheri; Ralph Herman; Bill Joseph; Nathan W. Perry.
Loop Parkway and NY 878 shields by Ralph Herman. Lightpost by Jeff Saltzman.