New York State has announced that construction has started on a $130m project to reconstruct a section of State Route 878, also known as Nassau Expressway, between Rockaway Turnpike and Burnside Avenue.

The stretch of road was built in the 1970s and currently carries more than 56,000 vehicles a day. Approximately 400,000 commuters used Nassau Expressway as an emergency evacuation route during Hurricane Sandy.

The state highway is vulnerable to flooding as is 2.5ft below the 100-year floodplain.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “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.

“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.”

The work is part of governor Cuomo’s extreme weather-hardening programme, and being carried out to mitigate flooding and improve existing drainage, with the intention of enhancing safety and reliability of this section of road.

“This investment will help harden Long Island’s transportation infrastructure to withstand future storms.”

Work involves installation of new traffic signals at each intersection along the road,  while additional turning and auxiliary lanes will be provided to improve traffic operations and safety.

In addition to repairing the Nassau Expressway, the project includes elevating the roadway 3ft-4ft above the floodplain, developing a new shared-use path for cyclists, runners, and pedestrians, modern drainage systems, and traffic signals to provide improved vehicle movement.

The new road will be constructed on a load transfer through timber piles and special lightweight fill, with nearly 4,500 timber piles driven to a depth of 55ft.

The design-build project will include removal of the 250,000ft² of Debris Mound, including concrete, brick, asphalt pavement, rock, and soil.

Once the Debris Mound is removed, it will provide an on-site area for improved drainage, stormwater treatment, and wetland mitigation.