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Governor Cuomo Announces Construction On $130 Million State Route 878/Nassau Expressway Improvement Project Is Underway

Project Slated to be Complete in December 2019, Six Years Ahead of Schedule.

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Photo by: Sponchia

Long Island, NY - May 30, 2018 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that construction is underway on a $130 million design-build project to reconstruct a section of State Route 878 (Nassau Expressway) between Rockaway Turnpike and Burnside Avenue in the town of Hempstead, Nassau County. More than 400,000 people rely on Nassau Expressway as an emergency evacuation route, which was utilized during Hurricane Sandy. Infrastructure and safety improvements are needed to raise the road, which is approximately two-and-a-half feet below the 100-year floodplain, and improve an aging drainage system and soil underneath. The project will be completed in December 2019.
"Nassau Expressway is a vital artery that connects both residents and visitors with Five Towns, Long Beach barrier island, JFK Airport, and nearly every major roadway in the area," Governor Cuomo said. "This investment will help harden Long Island's transportation infrastructure to withstand future storms, provide safe travel in and out of Nassau County, and further strengthen the region's economy."
Originally built in the 1970s, this busy stretch of road now carries more than 56,000 vehicles each day and provides a direct link to JFK Airport, the Five Towns Shopping Mall, and other commercial businesses. The segment of road between Rockaway Turnpike and Burnside Avenue is currently susceptible to flooding and has been closed during severe weather events, creating a bottleneck within the area's evacuation network. There is also recurrent congestion in this area due to poor operating conditions. The soil conditions in the project area are also poor and have contributed to the continuing failure of the pavement.
The enhancement project, which was developed with community input, will involve raising the road three to four feet above the floodplain, and building new drainage structures to prevent future flooding and provide a more resilient evacuation route. The new roadway will be constructed on a load transfer via timber piles and special lightweight fill. Approximately 4,500 timber piles will be driven to a depth of 55 feet. Additionally, a new shared-use path will be built to provide safe passage for bicyclists, runners, and pedestrians. Each intersection along the road will be upgraded with new traffic signals and the addition of turning and auxiliary lanes to improve traffic operations and safety.
The project will also include removal of the Debris Mound, locally known as the Inwood Mound - a large mound of construction debris southwest of the Nassau Expressway and Bay Boulevard intersection. The Debris Mound is approximately 250,000-square-feet of deposited material, including concrete, brick, asphalt pavement, rock and soil, and is within the State Department of Transportation right-of-way, rising 30 - 50 feet above the Nassau Expressway corridor. The removal of the Debris Mound will provide an on-site area for improved drainage, stormwater treatment, and wetland mitigation.
This project is part of a sustained effort by DOT to implement the recommendations of the NYS2100 Commission appointed by Governor Cuomo after Superstorm Sandy. The report included recommendations to strengthen and make the State's infrastructure more resilient.
The project is being progressed as a design-build contract, which calls for a single team of contractors to be responsible for both designing and building an entire project to ensure that coordination is seamless, and that work is completed in the shortest possible time frame. Design-build also provides cost certainty for the state with contractors assuming the risk for project delays and cost overruns.
Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "Raising the Nassau Expressway and installing a modern drainage system will make it more resilient against extreme weather and flooding, protecting not only an important community link, but a vitally important evacuation route. Governor Cuomo's investment will reduce the risk of flooding, ensuring public safety during future storms."
Senator Todd Kaminsky said, "This project will help transform a vital part of the South Shore that for too long has been plagued by traffic and flooding. Upgrading an essential evacuation route and expediting traffic for thousands of commuting Long islanders are critical priorities, and Governor Cuomo has focused on them by overhauling 878-something that officials have talked about for nearly fifty years but never accomplished."
Assemblywoman Melissa Miller said, "I am very pleased that this project is beginning and is slated to be completed far ahead of schedule. As someone who has lived here my entire life and has traveled this roadway almost daily, I have experienced firsthand the flooding, traffic congestion and closures many times. This roadway repair will bring much needed relief."
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, "These roads are critical routes for everyday as well as evacuation in times of emergency. Thank you Governor Cuomo for providing the dollars needed to finally repair and restore these main traffic arteries in Nassau County."
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said, "We are thankful to Governor Cuomo and his office for helping us protect our Town's vital infrastructure and evacuation routes. By working together to enhance this critical roadway, thousands of residents will undoubtedly be safer and more secure."
Consistent with Governor Cuomo's Drivers First Initiative, the project has been designed to minimize impacts to the travelling public. Work that will most affect travel lanes will be scheduled during off-peak daytime and nighttime hours.
Motorists are reminded that fines are doubled for speeding in work zones.  In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual's driver's license.
Additional information regarding this project can be found at For up-to-date travel information, call 511, visit, or the mobile site at Follow New York State DOT on Twitter: @NYSDOTLI.  Find us on Facebook at