Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday that a flood-prone section of Nassau Expressway in the Five Towns will be rehabilitated sooner than expected and that the state would pour $130 million into the project.
Nassau Expressway, also known as Route 878, runs from western Nassau County into Queens, carries 56,000 vehicles daily, and is a designated evacuation route for more than 400,000 people.
The plan, which was borne out of post-Superstorm Sandy NY Rising discussions, calls for the beleaguered one-mile stretch to be elevated to mitigate flooding while improving upon existing drainage. Cuomo said the project would be fast-tracked to begin in 2019 as opposed to its original starting date of 2025.
The governor was critical of past repairs, which he said were done “piecemeal,” and noted that the previous timeline was inadequate.
“The problem is that I may be dead by 2025,” Cuomo said during an appearance at the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence on Sunday. “That’s a long time from now, and who wants to wait and put up with it until 2025?”
Cuomo, who is fond of recalling his own experiences while highlighting the need for new projects, painted a nightmarish portrait of past trips along the parkway.
“I lived in Hollis, Queens. I had a good friend for many years who lived in Inwood, so I would come down the Cross Island Parkway, come across Brookville Boulevard, which was an undertaking in and of itself,” Cuomo said. “That is like going over the mountains, when you go over Brookville Boulevard. You dodge the potholes and you’re going through a whole marsh area, you wait for a boat to float past as you go through Brookville Boulevard, and then you’d run the floods. It was like a road test for a vehicle, that’s what it was.”
“Did you have the shocks to handle Brookville Boulevard, and then did you have the ground clearance to make it through the water on Burnside?” he continued. “So this is a situation that has gone on for way too long.”
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) in a statement said the infusion of cash will “protect a vital piece of infrastructure—and the New Yorkers who rely on it—for decades to come.”
Cuomo’s appearance also put him in the same room with indicted Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who in October pleaded not guilty to federal bribery charges.
The governor made light of the fact that the pair were in the same room together.
“Normally when I’m with the County Executive, we’re in some kind of snowstorm, hurricane, Mother Nature wrath, never-happened-before-but-now-it’s-going-to-happen-to-us situation,” he said. “So to be with Ed when the sun is shining and it’s not raining is really nice and unusual. We are talking about flooding so it’s basically where we’ve been, but let’s give the County Executive a round of applause.”
(Photo credit: New York Governor’s Office)