Smooth roads lead to Altamont

ALTAMONT — On Monday, a construction crew will begin the repaving process on Route 156 as it enters the village.

“After many years of begging, we just got word they’re going to do it,” said Mayor James Gaughan on Wednesday. “I’ve been calling every day for the last two weeks….just begging, begging, begging….You won’t have the bumpy ride to Altamont again.”

He went on about the road, the entrance to Altamont from the south, “I’ve been up and down the agency at DOT, trying to get some sympathy.”

The mayor was afraid, with the construction season coming to a close, that “those who live and ride on the terrible stretch of road” would have to wait another year.

“Oh, yes. Oh, yes, Jim has been begging,” said Frank Bonafide of the mayor. Bonafide is the regional program and planning manager for the state’s Department of Transportation. “Jim got very, very concerned because it was late in the season. I’ve tried to explain, despite his concerns, it’s been planned. The issue at hand is the contract mechanism.”

Bonafide said the “cost-effective process” used by the DOT for repaving projects is “via purchase order — it’s a low-bid process.”

Unlike reconstruction work, which involves design, he said, “This is quick and inexpensive.”

Bonafide did not know the name of the contractors that had been awarded the work or the price but said, since contractors typically get multiple sites, “It’s up to them to schedule.” The DOT has no say on whether a particular site is first or last on a contractor’s schedule.

The Route 156 project, which goes from Altamont Oaks to the bridge over the culvert by Stewart’s, will be completed in two phases.

The first part, which begins on Monday, Sept. 30, will last two to three days, said Bonafide. “It’s a cold, in-place recycling of the asphalt,” said Bonafide, which he described as grinding up the asphalt that is there, mixing it with emulsion, and putting it back down on the road.

“Then they’ll leave,” said Bonafide of the workers, noting, “This is all weather permitting.”

The rough surface has to set, and work is scheduled to begin again on Oct. 15, when an inch or an inch-and-a-half of top course will be applied, said Bonafide “for a smooth riding surface.” The road will have the same profile, he noted.

Traffic will be allowed over the stretch of Route 156 except when workers are actually onsite, he said. He also said that DOT workers would be onsite as well as the contractor’s crew, doing “peripheral” work, like driveway transitions.

The new pavement is expected to last seven to 10 years, Bonafide said.

He pointed out that the DOT had recently paved around railroad tracks that cross the village’s Main Street and is completing a repaving project on Route 146, leading into Altamont from the east.

“The stars and the moon sort of aligned for Altamont this year,” Bonafide concluded.

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