The Nassau Expressway, also known as Route 878, a vital access road for the eastern end of the Rockaway peninsula is due for a makeover, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who made the announcement in Lawrence on Sunday.

Members of the Five Towns Jewish community and local politicians heard the governor announce that the road updates would be completed nearly a decade earlier than first anticipated.

New York state officials say reconstruction of a portion of a Five Towns road that serves both as an outlet from the Far Rockaway and Bayswater communities and as a vital evacuation route that’s susceptible to flooding will be completed ahead of schedule.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday at a community center in Lawrence that the project to raise the Nassau Expressway – Route 878 – that connects to Seagirt Boulevard, will be completed by the end of 2019. The original timeline called for completion by 2025.

Cuomo, speaking at a Lawrence community center, said that the $130 million infrastructure improvement could help 400,000 residents use the expressway as an evacuation route during extreme storms. Cuomo also highlighted the potential for an economic surge in Long Island provided by the revamped highway.

The Nassau Expressway connects Nassau County to Queens and also links communities to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The section scheduled to be improved, from Burnside Avenue to Rockaway Turnpike, carries 56,000 vehicles each day, experts say.

Design drafts on the expressway will begin in May. Construction is planned to start by January of 2019.

“The Nassau Expressway serves as a vital lifeline for millions of New Yorkers – and we must ensure this roadway is prepared to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws our way,” Cuomo said. “By starting work on this project in 2019, we will complete the work six years ahead of schedule, strengthening the resiliency and protection of this major artery and enhancing the safety and security of our state’s residents, visitors and travelers for years to come. These major upgrades will support the continued growth of our economy and keep all of Long Island moving forward.”

The Nassau Expressway is a critical transportation route that connects southwest Nassau County to Queens and serves as a direct link to JFK. Additionally, it is designated as an evacuation route by both Nassau County and New York City. Sections of the Expressway are subject to severe flooding during extreme weather events, requiring it to be shut down, creating a bottleneck in the evacuation route.   Building upon Complete Streets legislation signed in 2011, this project will include new pedestrian signals and a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists; new drainage systems to eliminate recurring flooding; and new traffic signals and turning lanes. These improvements will transform the current roadway, enhancing access to the numerous retail and industrial businesses along this central corridor. The addition of new and improved lanes and signals will significantly reduce congestion and improve roadway and pedestrian safety for the tens of thousands of motorists who use this road each day. The funding for this project was included as part of the Department of Transportation’s new $21.1 billion capital plan, the largest transportation plan ever approved in NYSDOT history.   “Safety is our top priority, and this work will help ensure the safety of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in the event of a severe weather emergency,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll. “In addition to improving safety, this project will also create more than 1,100 jobs and ensure better access to local businesses which is great news for the community.”

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said, “My constituents and visitors depend on Nassau Expressway to get them to their destinations on a daily basis. The highway is also a critical route during emergencies and should meet the highest standards of safety and reliability. I commend Governor Cuomo for his commitment to rebuilding New York’s infrastructure and enhancing its resiliency. I look forward to working alongside him to see this project completed, as well as enhance safety and spur tourism along this corridor.”