Dear Governor Cuomo,
We are in receipt of Department of Transportation’s letter dated July, 16, 2014. While we appreciate DOT’s response to our call for improving the evacuation route along Rockaway Turnpike (NY-87.) Unfortunately, it falls far short of addressing the critical need to resolve the serious deficiency of our local roadway infrastructure in the event of a future emergency.
While we commend, and are grateful for, the proposal to complete the surface repairs, it cannot be overstated that an immediate solution to the dangerous traffic situation is required. During everyday peak hours, Rockaway Turnpike is already heavily congested and unable to support the ordinary flow of traffic. In the event of a full scale evacuation, we are courting disaster.
As far back as the 1960’s, New York State determined that the appropriate solution to reduce congestion was to build out 878 as originally designed, connecting the two current portions in Queens and Nassau County. In fact, we understand that the necessary land was acquired by the state, and various engineering studies have been performed. The only reason that the highway was not completed was due to a reluctance, over the years, by the state to commit the required funds.
While completion of 878 as originally designed remains the optimal solution, we believe that, as a bare minimum, it is necessary immediately to construct a by-pass to Rockaway Turnpike, so that no 878 traffic traverses Rockaway between Burnside Avenue in Nassau County, and Brookville Boulevard in Queens. We feel that this could be a viable and potentially less costly alternative to our already dangerously overcrowded thoroughfare and would create a reasonable evacuation route to protect our families, until the entire designed road is built.
The road surface fixes to 878 that have been proposed by DOT are the current minimum necessary to keep our roadway in use. However, they will have no impact on resolving the real issues. The dire nature of the problem calls for more than a quick fix or a “Band-Aid” to this seriously deteriorating roadway.The road surface fixes to 878 that have been proposed by DOT are the current minimum necessary to keep our roadway in use. However, they will have no impact on resolving the real issues. The dire nature of the problem calls for more than a quick fix or a “Band-Aid” to this seriously deteriorating roadway.
Accordingly, we respectfully request that you instruct DOT to stop dragging their feet and playing Russian Roulette with our lives and to implement this project immediately. We cannot continue to gamble with the health and safety of our communities on the South Shore of Long Island, Southern Queens and the Rockaways.
We have made tremendous progress in our Sandy recovery, thanks, in part, to abundant state assistance. However, we must not overlook the most basic necessity, which is our ability to evacuate our families quickly and safely in an emergency.
Thank you for your time in reviewing and responding to this important request.
Howard J. Kopel
Nassau County Legislator
7th Legislative District