Bethlehem Highway Department workers pour a sidewalk photo provided
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BETHLEHEM — Highway Superintendent John “Tiger” Anastasi presented the Town Board with the 2018 road maintenance program during its meeting on Wednesday, June 27.
During the course of his presentation, Anastasi talked about how the road maintenance program was developed based on a pavement condition assessment that was conducted in the spring of 2017.
Explaining that seemingly small defects in the roadway can quickly become larger and more expensive problems if left unaddressed, Anastasi said the town uses a scale — from one to 10 — to quantify the extent and expense of potential maintenance projects.
Currently, most of the town-owned roadways — a total of 99.79 miles — are rated a six or seven, meaning that routine maintenance or preventative treatments are likely all that is needed. A smaller percentage — 62.32 miles — are rated eight or nine, meaning they require little or no maintenance. The remaining 24.47 miles are a five or lower, meaning that more expensive preventative treatments, structural work or full reconstruction are needed. (Only about three miles have been deemed in need of full reconstruction.)
For example, before reconstruction, he noted, Borthwick Avenue was rated a three.
“The goal,” said Anastasi, “is to find and fix problems early.” He said it’s preferable to address roads before they reach a rating of five, as a rough winter could cause them to quickly deteriorate by a full level or two. Right now, he said, the department is working on roads rated six and seven.
This week, crews are working north of the Delmar Bypass, on Parkwyn Drive, Pheasant Lane, Jordan Boulevard, Catherine Street and Woodstream Drive. Also targeted for work in 2018 are Bethlehem Court and Salisbury Road, both rated a level five, and the neighborhoods off of Herrick Avenue and Wedgewood Lane, all rated level six.
Using the 2017 assessment to identify which roads are most in need of repair or repaving, the Highway Department coordinates with other town departments to identify public works projects, capital projects, new developments and pedestrian/bicycle priorities that could affect the timing of road maintenance projects in those areas.
“We don’t want to go and put new pavement down and then have them come up to put different infrastructure in and tear across our main roads with water, sewer, gas or whatever,” Anastasi said. “So we try to coordinate and it saves us a lot of money down the road. We may not get to certain roads as quick, but it works out cheaper and is a better job in the long run.”
Noting new developments in town and the age of the roads, Anastasi said that it will be important to keep an eye on certain potential problems, such as roads that show evidence of structural weakness in areas where heavy materials will be transported and traffic volumes are expected to increase.
It costs the town $6K to mill a mile-long stretch of roadway that is 24 feet wide and $50K for just the materials to pave the same area, according to Anastasi. An eight-person crew, as well as two flagmen and three or four truck drivers are also needed. Of the town’s approximately 187 miles of roads, an average of 11 to 13 miles are replaced each year.
“This is why the assessment is so vital,” he said. “Some roads weather better than others. Otherwise, in rotation, it would take 18 years just to do the full rotation if we just went in order.”
In 2018, the highway department will also reassess sidewalks.
“We maintain approximately 56 miles of sidewalk,” said Anastasi. “And 700 curb ramps. About 60 percent have ADA compliant detectable warning plates and 40 percent do not,” he said, referring to standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to Anastasi, per the town’s allocated budget for sidewalk maintenance in 2018, $50K, approximately one-third of a mile would be able to be replaced at the contracted rate. “At that rate,” he said, “it would take 155.6 years to replace all existing sidewalks.” He added that does not include the cost of the ADA compliant plates, which cost $500 each.
So, rather than paying a sub-contractor to do the work, Anastasi was able to outfit his own crew with all the equipment needed to replace or construct sidewalks, which he anticipates will cost the town 50 percent less than hiring someone else. He explained to the board how sidewalks, such as the new one along New Scotland Avenue, are constructed by town crews and showed photos of the finished results.
Noting that this is the first time town highway crews have fully constructed town sidewalks, Anastasi said, “They did a really good job. I’m very proud of them.”
“I’ve never really thought about sidewalks before,” said Town Supervisor David VanLuven. “And, seeing the crews working on them, they’re truly hand-crafted. They’re done entirely by hand. That many miles is truly back-breaking work and they do a fantastic job.”