New highway policy will extend the life of Cicero’s roads

— Spring is on its way out and summer is just around the corner. Like many other northern clime communities, the town of Cicero has embarked on its road maintenance program for the season. What is different this year is that the town board and the highway department joined forces to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with our failing infrastructure. It has been apparent for some time that our roads were deteriorating much faster than the pace at which they were being repaired. Specifically, the problem was that only two to three miles of road were being repaired each year, but, with 130 miles of road, it would take 45 to 65 years to get to all them. And there is no road that lasts 45 years, so a new approach had to be implemented — and quickly.

Two years ago I was a member of the Infrastructure Committee, chaired by then-Councilor Jim Corl, which attempted to identify factors that contributed to our current state of roads disrepair, and more importantly, to identify the measures needed to rectify the situation. As everyone knows, we sometimes have unrelenting winters with record-breaking snowfalls that require a lot of snowplow activity to keep our roads safe and navigable. We also experience some very wet springs and autumns. All of this moisture wreaks havoc on roads, made worse by the very heavy snowplows and trash pick-up trucks: a recipe for disaster, one could say.

As a result of the committee work, it was decided that we would amend our road construction specifications. The town board went on to approve new specs that included an additional four inches of asphalt to provide better pavement support. It was also decided that we would no longer build gutters, but rather require installation of underdrains to deal with water accumulations. The engineers unequivocally state that keeping water away from the roads keeps them from deteriorating as quickly, so road drainage is of the utmost importance.

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