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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 13, 2010

Zeh maps out road repairs for R’ville

By Zach Simeone

RENSSELAERVILLE — Following through on promises made in his campaign last fall, Highway Superintendent Gary Zeh has a million-dollar plan for smoother driving on some of the town’s worst roads, a plan that will involve working closely with the town board, according to the town supervisor.

“This meeting marks the beginning of a dialogue, to help us work cooperatively and collaboratively,” Supervisor Marie Dermody told town residents last month, before the 2010 highway agreement and Zeh’s capital improvement plan were unanimously adopted by the town board. The previous highway superintendent, ousted in the November election, had frequently clashed with the former supervisor.

The 2010 highway contract calls for $232,000 to improve “the worst unpaved roads that are traveled by school buses,” Zeh said, and $133,000 on repairing culverts and bridges shorter than five feet.

The agreement was approved unanimously by the town board, as was a tentative capital improvement plan that allots $1.36 million over the next 15 years, and will involve the buying, selling, and renting of different equipment between now and 2025. This will be coordinated with Zeh’s plans to improve town roads.

But work on the roads enumerated in the contract will likely not begin until June, Zeh said.

“We’re still doing the unpaved roads,” said Zeh. “You have to go through and grade them in the spring, because of potholes and washouts that happen during the wintertime from plowing and frost. Some roads are in worse shape than others.”

The town is also expecting between $85,000 and $143,000 in aid from Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPs) funding, though that amount will not be determined until the state passes its budget.

Highway department employees have also been working four-day workweeks, 10 hours a day, since May 3, and will continue to do so through Oct. 29.

“It cuts down your overtime,” Zeh explained. “Your asphalt paving or chip-sealing projects, they usually go more than your normal eight hours.”

The agreement

The $232,000 in the highway contract will be divided among five town roads:

— Phase 1 of repairs on Pond Hill Road, covering a .9-mile stretch that begins at the intersection with Route 10, and ends at Littner Road, will cost $40,300;

— Phase 2 of repairs on Pond Hill Road, covering a 1-mile stretch that begins at the intersection with Littner Road, and ending at Bryan Road, will cost $55,000;

— Phase 1 of repairs on Camp Winsoki Road, covering a .7-mile stretch that begins at the intersection with Pond Hill Road, and ends at a dead end, will cost $30,600;

— Phase 1 of repairs on Fleming Road, covering a 1.4-mile stretch that begins at the intersection with Route 351, and ends at Willsey Road, will cost $63,200; and

— Phase 1 of repairs on Pucker Street, covering a 1.8-mile stretch that begins at the intersection with Route 354, and ends at the western edge of town, will total $83,900.

This work will involve: trimming trees; installing and cleaning ditches, which allow drainage during storms; updating and adding culverts; reshaping crowns, the curvature of roads which guide the water towards the ditches; adding underdrains; installing stone sub-bases; applying liquid calcium; and updating signs.

Phase 1 of repairs on Pucker Street will also include a full-depth reclamation, which involves grinding up the roadway into a granular base layer, and then paving over the top of it.

Zeh explained some details of the needed repairs for The Enterprise this week, such as the need for underdrains.

“An underdrain is, if you have groundwater coming up through the surface of your road, you have to capture it and get it off to the edge of the road,” Zeh explained. “So, you dig a trench, and put in a 4-inch, perforated pipe, and you surround it with stone and fabric. That captures that water before it can get to the surface, and you run that pipe over to the shoulder.”

These unpaved roads will also receive varying inches of sub-base.

“Your road sub-base is your crusher run, or crushed stone, that you lay over the top of the road,” Zeh said. “The thickness of it varies depending on road conditions. If you have a good, hard existing surface, you don’t need as much. The next phase would be, next year, you either pave it or put a chip seal on it. Some roads in our town may even just stay stone because there’s limited traffic, and some residents don’t want them paved.”

Also included in the contract is Phase 2 of repairs on Pearson Road, where a new culvert was recently installed. The road will receive a single-seal surface treatment, and will cost $14,000.

“They replaced the culvert last year, and they put down a layer of asphalt pavement, and it needs a single course of chip seal on top,” Zeh said of Pearson Road. “But we have to do repairs of the asphalt surface first.”

The plan

Zeh’s capital improvement plan involves a combination of selling and replacing all 23 pieces of town equipment, mapping out when these proposed transactions would take place, and how much he plans on spending. Vehicle purchases will be financed by five-year statutory-installment bonds.

This plan will also increase the budget line for machinery capital expenditures, currently at $50,000, by $5,000 a year for the next two years, while decreasing other budget lines by the same amount over that period. Unexpended highway funds should be placed in a highway equipment account at the end of the year, Zeh said, along with money received from sales of trucks and equipment.

Here’s the plan, which Zeh emphasized is “just a working document”:

— This year, Zeh plans to auction off a 1980 Ford Power Broom, which will be rented as needed thereafter, and a 1995 Hyundai excavator; he notes in the plan that, after 2012, he will borrow or rent a Gradall excavator from a nearby county or town when needed.

He will also sell a 1986 Ford Tractor this year, along with a 1990 International plow and dump truck, and a 1988 Morbark Chipper, which Zeh said he will be able to borrow or rent from a nearby county or town as needed.

Zeh also plans to spend $180,000 on a new replacement for the town’s 1991 International plow and dump truck, which will be used for small excavation projects, and as an emergency backup plow.

And, a 1999 Ford F350 plow and dump truck will be replaced with a new one, spending $40,000;

— In 2011, Zeh plans to replace the town’s 2000 Ford F250 pickup and plow with a new one, spending $50,000;

— In 2013, he will sell the town’s 1975 Cat D5 bulldozer, the oldest piece of town equipment;

— In 2015, Zeh plans to replace a 1999 International 4-by-4 plow and dump truck with a new one for $180,000, and a 1999 Ford backhoe with another used one, spending $40,000;

— In 2016, he will look to replace a 1996 Ford bucket truck with another used one for $30,000;

— In 2017, he plans to replace a 1997 International dump truck with another used one for $60,000;

— In 2018, he will replace a 1998 Champion 772 grader with another used one, spending $90,000;

— In 2020, he will replace a 2000 International plow and dump truck with a new one, on which he plans to spend $180,000, and a 2008 Ford F250 pickup and plow with a new one for $50,000;

— In 2021, he will replace a 2001 International plow and dump truck with a new one, spending $180,000;

— In 2023, he will sell a 1983 Oshkosh 4-by-4 truck, and replace a 2003 International dump truck with a new one, spending $180,000; and

— In 2025, Zeh will replace a 2000 Cat 938 loader with another used one, spending $80,000; he will replace a 2001 Bomag roller with another used one, spending $20,000; and he will auction off a 2002 New Holland tractor, renting another tractor as needed.

Supervisor Dermody expressed concerns that unnecessary rentals would end up costing the town extra money.

“I would be really, really annoyed if we agreed to rent for four to six months, and had that piece of equipment sit here for a couple days a week,” Dermody told Zeh.

“Coming from an excavation-business background, where I’ve had to rent many machines,” Zeh replied, “if it’s sitting there and I’m not being productive with it, it’s going back, because I can always get another one.”

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