By Robin Jovanovich
City Engineer Ryan Coyne delivered a lengthy and informative presentation to the City Council at their March 28 meeting in response to the questions of how best to spend the million dollars in the annual budget allocated for road repaving and repair and how to get ahead of the deteriorating roads.
He responded: “The City owns roadways not always in the best of condition, but we’ve actually improved our pavement condition index in the past several years, focusing on rebuilding main roads, like Boston Post Road, Milton Road, Forest Avenue.” Coyne added: “What blurs those numbers is perception, and the fact that many of the remaining roads to be done are some of the worst in town.”
The County also owns a number of heavily traveled roads in town, he noted: “Theodore Fremd Avenue, or what’s left of it, Midland Avenue, Playland Parkway, North Street, Wappanocca Avenue.” When asked by Councilman Richard Mecca whether the County shares their repaving schedule with the City, he replied, “They send us 60 percent drawings, but we don’t have access to any five-year plan of theirs.”
The City’s repaving schedule takes into consideration a number of factors, from major intersection improvements to gas main work by Con Ed.
A number of projects are in the pipeline, but design drawings are not yet completed, Coyne said.
“We know we need to do improvements on Midland and Peck avenues, but we need further discussion on what those improvements should be. An increased turning radius on Midland is likely one of them,” he said.
The Purchase/Purdy/Theodore Fremd intersection design is funded this year, but with the New York State Thruway Last Mile project on the horizon , work on that intersection, or Midland and Peck, is unlikely in the next two years.
The City has made progress on its Complete Streets program over the last ten years to improve safety for pedestrians, runners, and cyclists, and this month Coyne is reviewing what still needs to be accomplished with the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee.
What is on the 2018 repaving list, at least preliminarily?
“We’re trying to hit the roads more traveled,” said Coyne.
Among them are:
• Boston Post Road from Central Avenue to City Hall;
• Forest Avenue from Van Wagenen to Green;
• Apawamis Avenue from Milton Road to Midland (paving only);
• the Fireman’s Circle (adding a geotextile membrane to thicken the pavement so the road lasts more than the typical eight years, new curbing, creation of an island crosswalk, which will cost an estimated $450,000 in total);
• Palisade Road;
• Locust Avenue between I-95 overpass and Mead Place.
After Coyne recommended that the City move forward with the design for the Firemen’s Circle, which would make it a safe roundabout, Mayor Josh Cohn agreed it was a vital junction and asked how long the project would take. Coyne said he would rely on the consultant for that figure.
After hearing at the same meeting that a new access road to replace the brook crossing bridge to the Rye Nature Center is imperative, Coyne said “that project is in a drawer at City Hall, waiting to be discussed.” Four years ago, the cost to create a road through the high school snowfield was an estimated $1.3 million.
Deputy Mayor Emily Hurd asked whether Forest Avenue would be repaved this year if the Council agreed to go ahead with the proposal to add sidewalks in some sections to ensure safe walking to schools. The mayor said they would have to review the three options on the table first and have a full redesign.
Estimating that the current cost of repairing all the roads in the city in need of repair now or soon is $10 million, Coyne said planned funding of $1 million annually should be sufficient. “We’re not underfunded at this point, although we wouldn’t turn down more money in the budget,” he added.
“Once we get through the next two years, especially if the County can hop on Theodore Fremd and Midland, we are in good shape,” Coyne said in summation.