By Michael Regan email@example.com
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda is entering the third of a three-year plan to redo many of its roadways, with more than $1.5 million spent already since 2011.
The plan was brought into play after the hiring of Brad Rowles, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, who told officials that the city’s aging infrastructure was chief among his concerns.
Roads marred by potholes are regularly among residents’ top complaints in the Lumber City.
Rowles said that with thoroughfares like Sherwood Avenue, Sweeney Street and Ruie Road already largely completed during the last two years, attention will now be turned to the area’s side streets, though a finalized plan will not be made public until next week, after receiving final common council approval.
“I’m hoping the driving public can see a big difference in the last two years,” he said. “We have 114 center-line miles of roads. We looked at the amount of mileage that needed to be resourced. No one was going to come up with $2.5 million in just one year.”
The city bonded $350,000 for this summer’s work, with a 23 percent increase in Consolidated Local and Highway Improvement Program, known as CHIPs, adding another $734,000 to that marker, for a total nearing $1 million. In 2012, the city bonded $200,000 and received $597,000 in state funding.
Niagara County as a whole received its first increase in CHIPs funding since 2008, with $6.4 million directed to its roadways this year.
Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka said he has submitted seven areas that he believes need attention within the boundaries of the road work budget, including parts of Nash and Walck roads. Each of the city’s three wards will be delegated approximately $300,000 — nearly an even split of the total funding pot.
“Once you get past this year we’ll be able to hit every side street,” he said.
Second Ward Alderman and Council President Rich Andres said his focus will be on secondary streets this year, though he declined to give specifics until a list is released next week.
“We don’t have the major streets to rehab, we’re looking pretty good most places,” he said. “We’re taking care of the regular stuff now, not these long stretches of streets. As an North Tonawanda resident, I’m not embarrassed by on our roads anymore.”
Mayor Rob Ortt said that Rowles also brought an aspect of efficiency into the plan, which included a better quality paving product, a process that recycles the material and better maintenance plan such as sealing cracks and reacting to pothole complaints quickly — all of which saves money and allows the roads to last longer.
Rowles said some of the changes will lead to a 15- to 18-year lifespan for local roadways, instead of 10, which will allow for better upkeep and longer-term savings.
Nonetheless, with harsh winters that require salting and the unpredictability of where problem roads may arise it is difficult to keep everyone happy, Ortt said.
“Inevitably, some streets don’t get paved,” he said.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.