One legislator is asking the state and city to update evacuation routes for coastal communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) has sent a letter to the state and city transportation commissioners, requesting their respective agencies take immediate steps to ensure designated evacuation routes and signage are updated and maintained regularly.
“We have made tremendous progress in our Sandy recovery, however, we must not overlook the most basic necessity, which is our ability to evacuate our families quickly and safely,” Goldfeder said in a statement. “We cannot wait for another Sandy disaster to address roadway infrastructure and outdated signage.”
In addition to outdated signage, Goldfeder said southern Queens and Rockaway neighborhoods are geographically isolated and have limited arteries that serve as evacuation routes. He noted those routes, including the Nassau Expressway, Beach Channel Drive and Cross Bay Boulevard, are already congested during peak hours and unable to support the heavy flow of traffic and evacuees risk being stuck on the routes during a major storm. Sandy’s storm surge flooded parts of all three routes.
Also, Goldfeder said many of the evacuation signs across southern Queens and Rockaway direct residents to Aqueduct Racetrack, a designation that predates the opening of Resorts World Casino New York City. Currently the designated evacuation center in that area is John Adams High School.
Before Sandy, several residents from the Rockaways went to Aqueduct instead of John Adams looking for shelter.
Goldfeder noted that the state Department of Transportation recently announced scheduled roadwork repairs on the Nassau Expressway — a primary evacuation route for many residents — will be postponed potentially until 2025.
He wants the DOT to move up work on that road to an earlier date.