Repairing and improving Rockaway Turnpike, a major evacuation route in the event of another disaster like Hurricane Sandy, and storm water mitigation projects are the main focus of Five Towns residents as final community reconstruction plans have been submitted to the state.
Jack Terebelo, of Cedarhurst, said he is concerned about Rockaway Turnpike, since he commutes into the city for work. “Our evacuation routes need consideration,” Terebelo said. “The elderly have no place to go, especially if their families are elsewhere. Then there are the gas shortage issues we had during Sandy. One side of the area has no gas stations, so people got stuck.”
Terebelo was one of about 20 residents who attended the final public meeting of the local NY Rising Community Reconstruction Committee, held at Mesivta Ateres Yaakov Yeshiva in Lawrence on May 7.
New York is receiving $650 million for infrastructure projects in the wake of Sandy from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development through the state agency NY Rising. The Five Towns were allotted $27.6 million (see map, page 11). Committees made up of local leaders and planning experts represent the communities receiving funds, and those committees presented their projects to a state panel in Albany last month.
Village of Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner also said he thinks that more funding should be allocated to improve Rockaway Turnpike. In a letter he wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he noted that the area is difficult to travel through, even during light rain. “Rockaway Turnpike, the major artery connecting the Five Towns and points south to New York City and J.F.K. Airport, and, at this juncture deemed the South Shore’s primary evacuation route, remains a hazardous, overcrowded orphan road subject to flooding,” Oliner wrote. “It’s almost impossible to traverse on regular days much less during a time of crisis.”