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Repaving stretch of Maple Road in Amherst could begin in 4 weeks

A troublesome one-mile stretch of Maple Road in Amherst has annoyed motorists for some time, but relief should come this summer, even if construction work causes some temporary headaches.

Repaving could begin in as soon as four weeks from now on Maple between North Forest and Hopkins roads, officials said.

Erie County engineers selected an $862,318 bid by Amherst Paving from among eight proposals for the work. The Erie County Legislature still needs to approve the project, said Charles Sickler, the county's director of engineering for the Public Works Highways Division.

"The money is in place, so that's a good thing," he said.

Maple Road started out as a state-owned road in 1972, built with 9 inches of concrete over a stone base.

When the state turned Maple Road over to the county, and county administrators were faced with making decisions about how to fix the deteriorated concrete road, they decided to pave over the concrete with a new asphalt surface.

The asphalt layer covered all of Maple Road's concrete expansion joints. So when the ground heaves as part of the region's freeze-thaw cycle, it pushes the concrete expansion joints out of alignment, cracking the top asphalt layer year after year. Those cracks fill with water. The water refreezes and expands, resulting in bigger cracks and potholes.

For the upcoming project, crews will scrape off the top 3 inches of concrete from 4 feet on either side of each expansion joint and replace it with 3 inches of coarse asphalt, which will settle over the pre-existing 6-inch concrete base.

Aside from repairing all of the expansion joints along this 1-mile stretch, the paving project also will cover the entire stretch with a 2 1/2-inch layer of fine asphalt reinforced with fiberglass threads. The addition of fiberglass threads adds $60,000 to the project cost, but officials said the threads will result in added strength.

Engineers settled on this plan after a winter paving experiment that involved studying eight paving test strips over 14 months.

Cracks on Maple Road determine winner in paving experiment

The county expected the repaving project to cost well over half a million dollars, maybe even close to $1 million. But that is still a lot less than the $3 million to $4 million cost for full road reconstruction.

County engineers are already looking to repair the next cracked stretch of Maple, which daily carries nearly 30,000 vehicles.

The much longer stretch of Maple from Hopkins to Transit Road is being eyed for repaving next year, Sickler said.

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