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Potholes plague county roadways, repair costs soar

WARRENSBURG The potholes and ruts in area roadways are particularly treacherous this year, but soaring asphalt and fuel costs are crimping budgets for pavement repair, highway officials reported this week. Warren County Dept. of Public Works Supt. Bill Lamy explained this week how the county is in a tight squeeze to meet drivers expectations for safe roadways while dealing with ever-increasing paving costs. The potholes are extraordinarily bad this year, and its due to a combination of weather events, he said. Lamy explained that water saturation of area road beds, combined with intermittent freezing, has caused layers of pavement to separate and then crumble a process called delamination. There are potholes on the countys backroads, area residents have reported recently, that are deep enough to damage vehicles and present a hazardous for unwary drivers. The countys 2008 budget allocates $1.85 million for road repairs, which recently was estimated to allow 50 miles of road repairs about 25 miles of county-owned roads and another 25 miles of town roads, Lamy said. But with ever-increasing oil and fuel prices, that mileage of new pavement is likely to be cut substantially unless the county leaders allocate more money for the roadwork, he said. The foremen on individual paving projects stop when they expend their budget, whether its a quarter-mile or 10 yards short of the planned destination, he said. State highway improvement grants of $1.232 million underwrite most of the expense. This figure includes a recent extra allocation to the states counties to go toward the increased pavement costs, Lamy said. For Warren County, the extra payment was $178,000, which will help offset the spiraling asphalt expenses, he said. Whether to use the extra money to complete the projects already scheduled or to increase the budget to tackle some extra roadway repairs, he said, is likely to be an issue soon before the county Board of Supervisors. Lamy warned county officials last week that they should not be short-sighted in their roadway repair efforts. He said that penny-pinching by laying down a thin topcoat of asphalt was a temporary fix that may cost less up front, but leads to increased expenses in the long run. County Dept. of Public Works Committee Chairman Dan Belden warned that county roads were in poor shape and needed attention. You put off paving projects and everything gets a lot worse and its much harder to catch up, he told the county supervisors Friday. If you postpone reconstruction and treat the surface instead, the asphalt overlays just dont hold up. New York State Dept. of Transportation spokesman Peter VanKeuren said Wednesday that state highway crews were trying to complete repair projects using less materials. Were feeling the pinch, he said. Were trying to keep the roadways in as satisfactory condition as possible. The state has four major projects for 2008 in Warren County totaling 16 miles and a number of lesser patch jobs. One major project is the reconstruction of state Rte. 9 from Glens Falls to the Great Escape theme park, and the other is state Rte. 149 from Martindale Rd. to the Washington Co. line. The two projects total about five miles of roadway. Also, 11 miles of paving work is planned for the towns of Chester and Horicon: one stretch of state Rte. 8 between Loon Lake and Faxson Pond, and another between Schroon River and Palisades Rd. , VanKeuren said. VanKeuren said these projects would be constructed regardless of how high asphalt and fuel prices continue to climb. Asphalt is now $55 to $60 per ton or 20 percent higher than a few years ago, and fuel, which affects the price of hauling, is approaching twice the cost. Everything scheduled to be constructed will go forward, VanKeuren said.

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