Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - Updated: 10:23 AM
By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk announced Monday that municipalities in Montgomery County will receive more than $4.2 million for local highway, road and bridge repair projects.
According to Tkaczyk, the 2014-15 state budget also provides local governments with an additional $40 million for "extreme winter weather assistance" to help repair potholes and road surface damage caused by the harsh winter weather.
"I have driven 20,000 miles on the roads of this district since the beginning of fall, and I've seen firsthand the toll this winter took," Senator Tkaczyk said in a press release. "Without additional resources, local municipalities simply would not be able to handle road repairs in a timely fashion. I felt it was absolutely critical to get these additional funds into the budget."
The 2014-15 State Budget includes $438 million for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) which helps local governments with road improvements and repairs. This appropriation maintains a record level of funding for the CHIPS program for a second consecutive year.
Each municipality in the State will receive approximately the same amount of CHIPS Aid as last year, but will also receive a share of $40 million in Extreme Winter Weather Assistance Capital.
Due to the funding, Montgomery County Public Works will be able to add to its road program this year. The county will receive $2.4 million in CHIPS aid and an additional $230,000 for extreme weather assistance.
County Public Work Commissioner Paul H. Clayburn said the CHIPS funding has increased approximately $231,000 over last year, which will help them get ahead of repairs needed as a result of the rough winter season.
"It varies, but normally we resurface between 23 and 25 miles and this will add another two miles," Clayburn said. "It helps a lot because additional roads can be resurfaced that otherwise wouldn't have been."
Clayburn said much of the damage to the roads is caused by the extreme winter temperatures, which caused an extended frost cycle.
"One of the biggest problems you have is when the frost is in the ground and you have warm days and cold nights, a pothole that you patched today may be gone tomorrow," He said. "We have tried to stay on top that. Now that the frost is out and staying out, its easier to catch up."
Towns within the county will receive $700,557 in CHIPS and another $84,000 in extreme weather funding. Villages will receive $262,491 in CHIPS and about $29,000 in additional funds.
The City of Amsterdam will receive $490,000 in CHIPS aid and an additional $46,000 for extreme weather recovery, which City of Amsterdam Engineer Richard Miller said is a slight increase over last year's $498,000 in funding.
"This will give us another street to get done," Miller said.
Many of the roads in the city are in need of pothole repairs, he said.
"It was a miserable winter for potholes. We have a lot of roads that were damaged but the way CHIP's funding is you can't just do the potholes, you have to do the whole street," Miller said.
He added that the number of roads that get done each year varies, depending on the size of the road and whether sidewalk and curbing repairs are included. If there are no sidewalks, more of the road surface can be done.
Also some roads can not be done if they are scheduled for utility maintenance, he said.
"There is no point in doing them if they are going to tear it up. We patch it up as best we can," Miller said, but added that right now nothing has been finalized.
"I am not sure where what we are doing right now," he said.
In the Village of Fort Johnson, the funding -- $21,598 in CHIPS and $2,423 for extreme weather recovery -- comes the same year when street maintenance is a source of concern.
"We have a lot of street maintenance that we are trying to address," Mayor Kenneth Walter said. "We are hoping to be able to do a little more this year. This funding comes in handy."
Walter said that two major projects could involve rebuilding upper end of Grant Avenue where previous storms have gullied out ditches and underwashed pavement; and repaving Lepper Road which has suffered due to increased traffic.
According to Village Clerk Barbara Smith, the funds will be added to left-over funds from previous years.
"Right now we have a balance of $24,000," Smith said. "We build up our CHIPS money until we have enough to do a road. We wouldn't be able to afford the streets otherwise since the cost of asphalt is going up. It's too expensive but with this funding we will be able to do more now."
Earlier this year, Tkaczyk met with Highway Superintendents from across the state who told her about the extensive road damage being caused by the harsh weather, and the steep costs for repairs, according to the release.
"Their budgets were already being wiped out by overtime payments for plow drivers, as well as the costs of road salt," Tkaczyk said.