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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 15, 2010

Is there a smooth ride ahead for Long Road?

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Almost a year after starting the Long Road reconstruction, the town plans to complete the project next week, and awaits funding that will pay for nearly all of the remaining costs.

“They won’t admit it, but they’re going to love it,” Highway Superintendent Ken Weaver said of Long Road residents, looking ahead to smoother roads. Those who live on Long Road have expressed their views on both the pros and cons of the road’s current condition; roadwork had ceased for months, and residents have been living on a partly built road.

“It’ll be oil-and-stoned next week,” Weaver said on Tuesday.

Last year, when then-Highway Superintendent Ray Storm presented his repair schedule, it included an estimated $110,000 project to reconstruct the base of a section of Long Road and a section of Elm Drive.

In recent weeks, neither the town supervisor, highway superintendent, town clerk, nor the highway department clerk could ascertain how much money had been spent on Long Road so far, and Storm could not be reached for comment.

The board projected last month that the remaining roadwork would total $145,748.37 — just above the amount of funding expected from Consolidated Highway Improvement Programs (CHIPs) funding — not including the necessary man-hours, Weaver said this week. The oil and stone surface alone, he said, will likely cost $112,033. The Gorman Group will be doing the work.

“That’s not including the costs yet to come for guardrails and all that stuff,” said Weaver. “It’s the only road I’ll be able to do this year because it’s taking up the whole CHIPs program.”

The town anticipates $144,000 in CHIPs funding from the state. At its regular June meeting, the town board voted to designate the completion of the Long Road project as the priority for those CHIPs funds. Last week, the town board approved the 2010 highway repair schedule, which placed a cap of $150,000 on the completion of the project.


Some residents of Long Road have told The Enterprise about their displeasure with how the town went about rebuilding the road, as the project went over-budget last year, bringing the roadwork to a halt.

Residents reported that the road had been built up so high, the undersides of their cars would scrape the ground as they came and went from their driveways. For months, this dirt road lacked a surface, which led to the formation of unavoidable potholes, they said, causing hundreds of dollars of damage to some vehicles.

Some wish the road had been left the way it was.

“When it rains, you get like ruts and drainage routes going down the road, and it makes the trucks and cars lose control sometimes,” said Corbin Repscher, who lives on Long Road. “My mom has $600 worth of car bills, and a couple of people up the road had front-end damage on their cars from all the potholes.”

Don Gray has had problems as well.

“I had to put $700 worth of work into my wife’s car from the potholes and stuff,” Gray said. “Lately, they’ve been keeping it pretty smooth. From way last fall, to this spring, it was all potholes. Christ, it was horrible. You’d swerve to miss one and hit 10 other ones. In the long run, when this is all done, it’ll probably be a good road. But until then, it’s unfortunate we have to put up with this stuff.”

But these residents see one advantage to the road being in its current state.

“I don’t want to see it paved because then, people will fly down it,” said Allison Warnken, another Long Road resident. “And me, with a kid and dogs, I don’t like seeing people driving too fast. So, it does keep traffic down, which is a good thing, but it does do a number on the cars.”

Some of the recent work, she went on, has only made matters worse for the cars.

“When they lay the fresh stuff down, that’s when you’ve got to worry about your tires popping,” said Warnken. “It’s just a mess. It doesn’t matter to me, though; it keeps people driving at a safe pace.”

Weaver defends his predecessor’s decision to rebuild the road.

“The blacktop was all broken up; it needed to be done,” said Weaver. “It’s a matter of opinion on how far we had to go with it. Did we have to go this elaborate, build it up this good? I do believe the road will be unbelievably good because of the work Ray [Storm] put into it. It’s just more work than we would have normally done on a normal road. But he wanted to do it right, I guess.”

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