State and city officials must ensure designated evacuation routes and signage are updated and regularly maintained, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) urged in letters sent to state Commissioner of Transportation Joan McDonald and city Commissioner of Transportation Polly Trottenberg.
“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. “We cannot wait for another Sandy disaster to address roadway infrastructure and outdated signage.”
In addition to dealing with outdated signage, Goldfeder noted South Queens and Rockaway neighborhoods are geographically isolated and have limited arteries serving as evacuation routes – including the Nassau Expressway, Beach Channel Drive, and Cross Bay Boulevard. During peak hours, these thoroughfares are already congested and unable to support the heavy flow of traffic – and the legislator said that during an emergency these problems would be exacerbated.
Currently, many of the evacuation signs across South Queens and Rockaway direct residents to Aqueduct Racetrack – however, during Sandy residents were required to evacuate to John Adams High School in Ozone Park. This lack of updated and clear signage marking evacuation routes, as well as partially crumbling and cracked roadways, has prompted residents to voice numerous safety concerns, Goldfeder said.
Additionally, the DOT recently announced scheduled road work repairs along the Nassau Expressway – a primary evacuate route for hundreds of thousands of residents – is expected to potentially be postponed until 2025.
“We need to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to emergency preparedness,” Goldfeder said. “I strongly urge the city and state DOT to take immediate action and update all evacuation routes signs and ensure roadways are properly maintained and cleared for thousands of our families in the event of an emergency.”