By Anessa V. Cohen
I think most of us have already lost count of the stories and promises by government representatives across the spectrum, telling us of all the plans in store for completing the Nassau Expressway/NY-878. We have endured years of that already, but nothing at all has actually been done. It becomes a daily exercise in frustration to try to avoid that stretch of 878 that merges with Rockaway Turnpike and bogs us down like quicksand. We sit in traffic, trying to get past the gridlock, inch by inch, to move forward to the highways.
Here we are at the beginning of another summer, when the traffic becomes even worse than usual with all the beachgoers heading out to Atlantic Beach and Long Beach. And still absolutely no solutions have been put in place to alleviate this traffic debacle that we as local residents will have to suffer yet another year.
I consider myself a practical person and would like to understand why a simple solution of building an overpass has not been implemented. An overpass from somewhere around Burnside Avenue to the Nassau Expressway entrance to the Belt Parkway and Van Wyck would allow all the traffic on 878 to bypass the local traffic on Rockaway Turnpike. An overpass of this kind, with maybe one or two exit and entrance ramps along the way, would have the majority of traffic skipping all the lights, reducing the gridlock on Rockaway Turnpike, as well as providing a direct route out of this area that would actually be useful in case of emergency.
Many of us have laughed at the instructions to use the existing route along Rockaway Turnpike as an emergency evacuation route in case of hurricanes or other emergencies; the joke is that even if you could get onto Rockaway Turnpike and through the traffic gridlock to “escape” in times of a storm or hurricane, it is almost a sure bet that Rockaway Turnpike would be the first area to flood—and there is no way any traffic could pass through those flooded streets!
At least if we had this overpass, its elevation above the flood zone of Rockaway Turnpike would serve well as a viable emergency escape route to the highways. This would be a tremendous benefit to the entire area in case of storm and hurricane evacuations or other emergencies.
My next thought is: Given that this overpass would be declared an emergency escape route, wouldn’t the funding and building of this overpass qualify to be underwritten by the federal government? And if so, wouldn’t this finally be a solution to the fighting going on all these years between New York City and Nassau County regarding responsibility for funding and building the continuation of the Nassau Expressway/878? That back-and-forth negotiation has fallen into its own gridlock; it seems these entities can’t get their acts together to work as a team to finish this project, so it remains at a standstill.
Maybe it is time for us to be more forceful with our politicos. This is a quality-of-life issue for all of us living here, and we must all put more pressure on everyone across the board to get this project rolling. v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (FM Home Loans) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.