By Larry Gordon
Under a steady drizzle in the Lawrence Costco parking lot on Tuesday morning, Senator Charles Schumer called upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to jumpstart a storm-surge protection and repair plan for the highly potholed and degraded Nassau Expressway/Rockaway Boulevard roadway, a.k.a. Route 878.
Travel in and out of the Five Towns during rush hours or during inclement weather is routinely a nightmare for commuters. Stories of motorists stuck on Friday afternoon as Shabbos begins to set in, in bumper-to-bumper traffic along the roadway adjacent to the JFK runways, have become routine. Tales are regularly told of friends or visitors who had to abandon their cars and walk to the Five Towns because it was already Shabbos and traffic was at a standstill.
The heavily traveled road is a critical evacuation route for 400,000 South Shore residents and prone to significant flooding in even the smallest rainstorms. Assemblyman-elect Todd Kaminsky commented, “Route 878 is a vital artery running through the heart of the South Shore. It is imperative that we invest in its future to preserve ours. I applaud Senator Schumer’s request for federal assistance, and will continue the urgent fight for government funding and other assistance in Albany.”
At the event, Schumer was flanked by New York State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder of Far Rockaway, Nassau County Legislators Denise Ford and Howard Kopel, and Village of Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner.
On the danger of continued delays in the project to repave and modernize the roadway, Schumer said, “It is critical that the federal government step in and fund this protection plan so the roadway is functional in the event of future storms or other emergencies.”
Senator Schumer pointed out that the $50 million needed to begin to modernize the route can be secured from one of three sources of funding available to the Army Corps.
The other officials present thanked the senator for his personal concern for the well-being of South Shore residents and his overseeing this vital road-repair project without delay. Under the best of circumstances, the revitalization of the roadway will take several years.