The road is designated New York State Reference Route 987G, an unsigned reference route. Freeway exit numbers are no longer signed, though boulevard intersections are, where the signs still exist.
Today, the Taconic stretches from the Bronx River Parkway in Kensico in the Town of North Castle, Westchester County northwards to East Chatham in Columbia County. The Taconic then ends at the toll plaza preceding the New York State Thruway Berkshire Section (Interstate 90 exit B2). Unpaved alignments can be seen where the parkway was, at one time, planned to continue north. Various reports claim to either of US 20 or NY 22, which would have avoided the current toll trap.
Like many New York parkways, the Taconic is restricted to passenger vehicles only; commercial vehicles are prohibited. Given the state's vehicle-licensing rules, this prohibition became a problem as truck sales increased. In January 2000, the rules were changed such that pickup trucks licensed in New York could obtain passenger plates and be driven on the Taconic.
Starting from its southern terminus, Kensico Circle, at the end of the Bronx River Parkway, and located near the base of the Kensico Dam, the Taconic gets off to a start much as it was originally built early in the 20th century. The narrow 4 lane roadway with nothing but a box beam median barrier feels confined and tight, yet the feeling of a country drive is there thanks to the clever use of terrain and vegetation to hide the surrounding urbanized environment. For the first few miles the parkway is very much a surface arterial, complete with traffic lights at nearly every intersection, following the path of the Bronx River.
Just after Stevens Avenue, things begin to change. After passing over a steeply ramped bridge over the Metro-North's Harlem line, one might notice the remains of a small paved circle in the median, the remains of what was once was a turn-around at the end of the parkway. Just past the turn-around, the roadway heads north and takes on the feel of a highway entrance ramp. This tends to prepare one for the dramatic change about to occur, as soon the Taconic widens to a 3 south-4 north lane freeway at the merge with the Sprain. The two-lane exit to the Saw Mill Parkway quickly takes away the 4th lane.
Southbound travelers might have a difficult time following the Taconic at this merge. Although there is the usual small parkway sign, the Taconic narrows to just two lanes just before the 2 lane NY 141/SMP entrance ramp. The much larger overhead sign has the exit labeled as "Bronx (River) Pkwy", and the parkway sign is all the way over along the other side of the ramp.
After Hawthorne, where a dangerous traffic circle once existed, the parkway is very much a freeway and one might get the feeling they are traveling on just another Interstate—a rather curvy one—until reaching Croton Lake where an intimidating bridge entrance seems to appear from nowhere. The bridge, known as AMVETS Memorial Bridge (formerly New Croton Reservoir Bridge until 2003), crosses the Croton Reservoir. After crossing Croton Lake one might start to notice uncommon details of the road and its structures, all designed to blend into the landscape.
Just south of the Baldwin Rd. exit, there is a plaque on the East side of the roadway set in stone paying tribute to William D. Baldwin, who donated 25 acres of land to help with the building of the Taconic Parkway back in 1928. Mr. Baldwin was the Westchester Parks Commissioner at the time and his family owned a 550-acre estate in French Hill at the time.
Upon entering Putnam county, the climb into the Hudson Highlands has begun and the character of the parkway as FDR envisioned starts to become evident. The twisty roadway, narrow and confined with only a box beam median is much like the Westchester boulevard segment but lacking the traffic lights. Tighter curves are noticeable as it passes through the rugged terrain. The former overlooks are long gone, but glimpses of the views to appear later still exist.
After a steep climb, it levels off a bit before plunging down into Peekskill Hollow and crossing Peekskill Hollow road. Then the parkway makes another steep ascent up toward Fahnestock State Park following the path of Roaring Brook as it makes a dramatic sweeping 180-degree turn, quickly followed by a 90-degree turn in the opposite direction. It passes between two large lakes as it enters Fahnestock and reaches its highest point. The parkway continues its journey, skirting across the top of the Highlands toward the Dutchess County line.
At-grade crossings were eliminated for most of the Taconic's run though Dutchess County because of high traffic volume and a history of accidents. So far, one overpass has been built, and an exit has been added (northbound at Noxon Road in the Town of Lagrange) to complement the closures.
The parkway terminates at a three-lane tollbooth to the Berkshire Extension of the New York State Thruway, which enters at exit B2.
The Taconic was built over a number of years in four sections by two different agencies.
The first was the Westchester County Parks Commission (WCPC) who built an extension of its very successful Bronx River Parkway project. Proposed by Robert Moses it was intended to provide a quick scenic route from the Bronx to the Bear Mountain Bridge, at that time, a rare bridge over the Hudson River. The parkway design was largely the work of landscape architect Gilmore Clarke.
The second was a project by the Taconic State Park Commission (TSPC). The TSPC was formed in 1925 to oversee two tasks, develop the proposed Taconic State Park, and a parkway to the park. Franklin Delano Roosevelt who first chaired the TSPC quickly focused on the parkway presenting a proposal for the path of the parkway at the commissions third meeting:
"approximately mid-way between Albany Post Road and the Harlem River Valley and coming out on the west side of Shenandoah Valley, passing thence east of East Fishkill, east of Hopewell, east of Arthursburg, east of Billings, east of Moores Mill, east of Washington Hollow, east of Stanfordville, west of Bangall to the south end of Stissing Mountain, thence over the top of Stissing Mountain through Silvermalls and past Charlotte Lake, thence approximately in a straight line to Philmont and past Chatham, with the idea that at some point north of Chatham would be divide and one fork would lead northeast to Williamstown and the Mohawk Trail and the other fork northwest passing east of Troy, to the Saratoga Battlefield."
Since Roosevelt's statement, Lake Charlotte has been renamed Lake Taghkanic and became the centerpiece of Lake Taghkanic State Park.
This was the plan adopted by the TSPC and approved by the State Parks Council, although Roosevelt is reported to have said later the parkway would extend north to the Canadian border.
While the WCPC project got off to a quick start and finished just two years later, despite delays due to soil conditions north of Mohansic Park (since renamed Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park). The TSPC project had a much slower start. At the time, Moses was chair of the State Parks Council, which controlled TSPC funding, most of which went to the Long Island Parks Commission, which Moses chaired. Funding to acquire land or even hire TSPC staff was minimal, an issue Roosevelt frequently complained about.
Although some progress was made acquiring land for a right-of-way through much of Putnam and into Dutchess, primarily through land donations, two of the largest being the Fahnestock and Lake Charlotte donations. It was not until the 1930-31 budget that significant funds became available. Assisted greatly by Roosevelt who by then was governor of New York, and was so fond of the project that he continued to influence it for years after leaving the TSPC.
As traffic volume increased, two median service stations were built, the Shenandoah station near Hosner Mountain Road and Todd Hill near Todd Hill Road in 1942. Both sold gas and could do minor repairs, quite modest, unlike the full-service Briarcliff Wells station with a garage, restaurant and bar.
Pressure grew to improve the safety of the aging roadway, as it was rapidly becoming a major commuter route. Furthermore, a new parkway, the Sprain Brook, was being planned to connect to the Taconic. The TSPC started investigating its options to modernize the parkway, including grade-separating crossings, additional traffic lanes between Hawthorne and Yorktown, and removing the Hawthorne Circle, which had become a known problem as early as 1941. In 1954 the cost of such improvements was estimated at more than $25 million, much more than the thinly spread TSPC could afford.
In 1954, the hazardous at-grade crossing of Underhill Avenue in Yorktown was grade separated with a stone-faced concrete arch bridge designed by Gilmore Clarke, faithful to the parkway's original character.
Funding problems were eventually mitigated in 1960 with the creation of the East Hudson Parkway Authority (EHPA). The EHPA assumed control of the parkway the next year. Unlike the TSPC's recreational vision, the EHPA concentrated on larger scale projects to increase the capacity of the southern end of the parkway.
Between 1965 and 1971, an additional three-lane alignment was added between Campfire Road in Millwood and Crompond Road (US 202/NY 35) in Yorktown. The original alignment was then reconfigured for 3 lanes in a single direction. This project was completed when the final section between Kitchawan (NY 134) and Baldwin Roads was finished in 1971. Along with the additional alignment, a new 1,362-foot steel truss bridge was built over the Croton Reservoir to carry southbound traffic. In addition, the Hawthorne traffic circle at the Saw Mill River Parkway was replaced with a three-level interchange that only provides parallel connections (north–north, south–south).
While reconstruction in Westchester county was welcomed, plans to enlarge the parkway in Putnam where not as well received. The parkway through Putnam, with its steep terrain and sharp corners, was especially hazardous, and development had increased the at grade crossing problems, notably at Bryant Pond Road. To help improve the parkway safety, in 1967 a median box beam barrier was installed between Bullet Hole Road (north of Bryant Pond Road) and Pudding Street.
The plan favored by the EHPA would have had a new southbound alignment going through the Wiccopee Valley and Bryant Pond areas of Putnam Valley, creating alignments as much as 1.5 miles apart. Not only would this have cut through Fahnestock State Park, but it also would have isolated a large portion of Putnam Valley and left the Tompkins Corners hamlet marooned in the median. Ultimately, the potential effects on Fahnestock doomed the plan and smaller improvements having less impact on the original character of the parkway were done, such as replacing the not very effective timber guide rails with steel box beam guide rails.
In 1980, the Sprain Brook Parkway was completed, providing a higher-speed, signal-free means of reaching the state-maintained freeway portion of the Bronx River Parkway. Until the completion, it was possible to travel south on the Sprain to the NY 100/Bradhurst Ave exit.
The early 1990s saw the completion of the parkway between NY 100/NY 133 in Millwood and the Saw Mill River Parkway in Hawthorne being widened to six lanes with a median, in the process removing one of the original stone construction gas stations (examples of which can still be seen farther north) and the infamous "Pleasantville hump" (the bridge over Pleasantville Road had steep ramps on both sides). During this project, the at-grade crossings of Washburn Road, Chappaqua Road, and Campfire Road where removed. The eastern part of Washburn Road became a cul-de-sac, the western part was extended south to Pleasantville Road. A bridge was built over Chappaqua Road, and the eastern part of Campfire Road was extended north to what had been the northbound NY 100/NY 133 exit, while the short western part between the parkway and NY 100 was abandoned. Today it is a parking area for, and what remains is now under, the North County Trailway. The NY 100/NY 133 exit was then reconfigured to exit onto what is now Campfire Road.
In 2000, reconstruction began to widen the parkway between US 202/NY 35 and US 6 from four lanes to six lanes. At the time this project was expected to be completed in 2001. In 2003, the original contractor was replaced and the project is now complete.
In 2001, the grade crossings at Bogardus Lane, Carpenter Road, Arthursburg Road, Todd Hill Road, and Stormville Road were closed to cross traffic as part of a comprehensive safety improvement project, recommendations of which also included closing the Hibernia Road, Hollow Road, Willow Lane, Pumpkin Lane, Nine Partners Road, Willowbrook Road, and Cold Spring Road crossings.
During 2007, work should be completed on Ramp X. Located just south of Ramp W, this ramp connecting southbound NY 9A/NY 100 to the southbound parkway in Mount Pleasant was originally part of the earlier widening project, but was postponed to reduce costs.
To this day work continues to remove the remaining at-grade crossings that still exist. Some, like Bryant Pond Road and Miller Hill Road, have been replaced with a bridge and interchange. Others have been closed off to cross traffic. The next at-grade crossing likely to be replaced with an interchange is Pudding Street.
An earlier dream of extending the parkway to the Canadian border died with the Interstate system. Designed for all traffic, the Thruway diverted funding from the extension project; the eventual construction of the Adirondack Northway ultimately removed the need.
|Westchester||Valhalla||0.00||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|W1||South Kensico Avenue|
|W2||Legion Dr||No longer accessible from the TSP|
|Southern terminus of freeway section|
|2.85||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|3.30||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|3.30||Southbound exit and northbound entrance|
|Mount Pleasant||4.00||Northbound exit and entrance|
|Briarcliff Manor||4.67||Northbound exit only|
|5.63||W10||Pleasantville Road (CR 401) - Pleasantville|
|W11||Pines Bridge Road (CR 1323)||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|Bridges over the New Croton Reservoir|
|Underhill Avenue (CR 131) - Croton-on-Hudson, Yorktown Heights||Former NY 131|
|Baldwin Road||Former NY 132A|
|Mohansic Avenue||Southbound entrance only; no exit from Taconic|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park|
|17.36||No northbound entrance|
|19.76||Northbound exit and southbound entrance|
|Northern terminus of freeway section|
|Putnam||Putnam Valley||Artery to Dring Road||Southbound-only at-grade intersection, signed only at intersection.|
|23.2||P1||Bryant Pond Road|
|P2||Bullet Hole Road||Northbound only, closed mid-1990s|
|25.65||P3||CR 21 (Peekskill Hollow Road)|
|28.2||P4||Pudding Street||At-grade intersection.|
|P5||Wiccopee Lane||Southbound only, closed mid-1990s.|
|Kent||31.14||P6||NY 301 - Carmel, Cold Spring||To Fahnestock State Park (east).|
|P7||Hortonton Town Road||At-grade intersection. Median closed early 2000s.|
|P8||Knapp Road||Northbound only. Southbound closed mid 1990s, median closed early 2000s.|
|Dutchess||East Fishkill||D1||Miller Hill Road||Location of Appalachian Trail crossing.|
|36.92||D2||I-84||Exit 16 N-S (I-84)|
|38.39||NY 52 - Fishkill, Carmel|
|CR 29 (Carpenter Road)||At-grade intersection.|
North-to-east and south-to-west connections.
|CR 9 (Beekman Road) - Hopewell Junction, Sylvan Lake|
|43.69||NY 82 - Hopewell Junction, LaGrange, East Fishkill|
|LaGrange||CR 42 (Arthursburg Road)||Southbound only. Recently upgraded from an intersection. Northbound closed mid-1980s.|
|CR 21 (Noxon Road) - Noxon, LaGrangeville||Northbound exit only. To southbound Taconic, use CR 42.|
|47.05||NY 55 - Pawling, Poughkeepsie||Mid-Hudson Bridge - use NY 55 west.|
|James Baird State Park||Northbound: left-hand exit. Southbound: right-hand exit.|
|Pleasant Valley||54.72||US 44 - Poughkeepsie, Millbrook||To NY 82.|
|Clinton||CR 14 (Hollow Road)||At-grade intersection, northbound only.|
Median closed July 24, 2002.
|58.30||NY 115/CR 17 (Salt Point Turnpike)||To Hyde Park.|
|Stanford||D19||Nine Partners Road (median closed in early 2000s)|
|D20||CR 19 (Bulls Head Road)|
|Milan||D22||Cold Spring Road||At-grade intersection.|
Median closed August 15, 2002.
|67.75||D23||NY 199 - Pine Plains, Red Hook; Milan Wilcox Recreational Park|
|Columbia||Gallatin||72.24||Columbia CR 2/Dutchess CR 50 (Jackson Corners Road)||Interchange partly straddles the county line.|
|CR 8||At-grade intersection.|
|Taghkanic||78.30||Lake Taghkanic State Park||Southbound: no exit, make U-turn at CR 8.|
|79.72||NY 82 - Ancram, Hudson||Rip Van Winkle Bridge - use NY 82 west.|
|CR 10||At-grade intersection.|
|Claverack||87.77||NY 23 - Claverack, Hillsdale|
|Ghent||91.34||NY 217 - Harlemville, Philmont|
|Austerlitz||99.25||NY 203 - Austerlitz, Chatham|
|Chatham||101.88||NY 295 - Chatham, East Chatham||Northbound: last exit before toll. Southbound: access via Hartigan Road.|
|Rock City Road||Northbound entrance only.|
|Upper Cady Road||Southbound exit only. Commercial traffic must exit.|
|Toll booth. Southbound: pay toll. Northbound: get ticket for the New York State Thruway.|
|104.12||I-90/Thruway east||Northbound exit only.|
Exit B2 (I-90/Thruway).
|Northbound traffic defaults onto I-90/Thruway west.|