The county is fixing roads right, the state should follow suit

To the Editor:

Here we go again, as the state has a loose-change, scratch-off ticket that is exactly what I believe it is giving the Hilltowns by its refacing State Route 85.

Going back to 1928, the state started building part of Route 85, which was called then Delaware Turnpike; I believe it ran from Delmar to State Route 145 in Livingstonville in Schoharie County.

Now, State Route 85 runs from Albany to Rensselaerville.

The state back in 1928 bought pieces of land along the way to make the road straighter and wider. A small piece came off my farm, which was bought by my grandfather back in 1923.

I believe, back in 1928, the state had no idea how thick the stone base underlayment should be for the heavy trucks that have been knocking it apart for the last 40 years.

Also, when it was built, the ditches weren’t dug deeply enough to keep water from building up, freezing and causing millions and millions of surface cracks and many, many potholes and auto-spring-breaking bumps.

I believe ditches should be a minimum of four feet deep and the upper side of the Letter S, possibly five feet.

After living alongside State Route 85 for most of my 73 years on four different parcels, which also included three successful businesses from 1969 to the present, I have driven many hundreds of thousands of miles on State Route 85 and have seen a steady decline of workmanship pertaining to the maintenance of the road.

Just in the last two years, the state’s Department of Transportation has painted the yellow and white stripes before it came around to blacktop the potholes, just like putting the cart before the horse. I believe 90 percent of the ditches have never been cleaned out, leading to more water under the highway, causing more frost heaves and cracks.

The shoulders in many areas are in bad condition. The grass and weeds are now only cut once a year, around the first week in August. This lets weeds like poison parsnip mature and spread their seeds into hayfields, causing farmers to lose part of their fields to weeds.

Now, onto the dead trees that seem to be mostly along Route 85 from the top of Letter S and going towards Rensselaerville. Just along Route 85, going through my farm, there are several dead trees; two maples have lost their lives 10 years ago and all their limbs have fallen off.

One dead elm, during a storm at the end of September came down at night, completely across Route 85 just below my farmhouse and Paul Devane from Berne ran over it causing thousands of dollars of damage to his car. He was very fortunate he wasn’t hurt.

Maybe the state should give Albany County New York state’s share of gasoline taxes for the state roads here in Albany County so they can be fixed right.

For the last three years, Albany County, I believe, has been redoing roads the right way: three years ago, County Route 203 called Johnston Road; two years ago, County Route 312 from Clarksville to Dormansville; now 402 outside of Westerlo.

I believe we, the Hilltown people, have had enough abuse. Truck drivers have had a large amount of damage to their trucks; it’s like riding a bucking bronco at a rodeo.

With all its spending I wonder if the state doesn’t have the money to rebuild Route 85 the way it should be. Ever since the mid-nineties when Dan O’Connel was the Conservative ramrod for the Democratic party we had around 500 dairy farms here in our four Hilltowns, the Democratic Party, as I see it, has slowly given way to the liberals.

Now, I believe, three dairy farms are left. Even newborn kittens finally get their eyes open. It seems to me, humans take decades and I admit I should have opened mine decades sooner.

Keep in mind there are the Republican Party — Tea Party — Conservative Party and Independence Party members, if they work together, can straighten out our county.

Going back in time, our Hilltowns were the brightest and most historical places in Albany County. So let’s demand that our state roads are built to last many decades, so residents don’t have to buy a new car every five years; and tourists aren’t shunted off by our deteriorated state roads.

Clinton Jack Milner


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