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

— Another significant committee decision was to start a comprehensive assessment of all town roads utilizing the Cornell Roads Program. All 130 miles of roads were evaluated by a highway department employee and an engineering intern, using objective criteria developed at Cornell. This assessment process took about four weeks during the summer of 2012. Once completed, the work of analysis of all the data took another six weeks. The end result was a report that spelled out a 21-year repair-and-maintenance plan for all roads, based on their current conditions. This is the first time the town board has had such a tool that spells out and prioritizes when roads need attention, and the plan makes it much easier to support the highway superintendent as he schedules his summer work.

During the budget development process of 2012, the town board decided to commit to a five-year plan that dedicated $800,000 per year to roads repair. The highway department, which had never had that much money for paving before, was asked to develop a roads repair plan for 2013, in compliance with Part 284 of Municipal Law. Their plan for this summer will address 15 miles of road, including crack-sealing of six miles of road. The crack sealing will keep the water from seeping into the pavement. Our highway superintendent stated that this measure would add about eight years to the life of a road before it had to be repaired. Other measures for this year include patching, installing underdrains and various paving operations.

While it is easy to summarize long months of difficult deliberations into a few paragraphs, this joint town board-highway department venture was not without angst and controversy. The Cornell roads assessment cost $19,200. Not cheap, but certainly justified, given that we are investing $4 million for roads repair for the next five years. In case you are wondering, $19,200 is 0.48 percent of the $4 million road repair allocation. The entire highway department budget totals about $4.3 million per year, or $21.5 million for five years. Clearly, the Cornell roads assessment is an investment that pays back many-fold in containing our highway maintenance costs.

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