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Road crews poised to go to work

Help is on the way for motorists dodging potholes on Hopkins Road in Amherst.

Work is finally going to begin on Goodrich Road in Clarence.

Resurfacing of the Kensington Expressway will continue from Buffalo to Cheektowaga and back, while repairs will start along the Youngmann Highway in the Town of Tonawanda.

And watch for construction along well-traveled routes like Whitehaven Road in Grand Island, Sheridan Drive and Brighton Road in the Town of Tonawanda, and Boston State Road in the towns of Boston and Hamburg, just to name a few.

Nearly $160 million will be spent by the state Department of Transportation and Erie County this season to repair area roads, bridges and highways, officials said Tuesday.

That’s welcome news for drivers. While the construction season is normally looked upon with disdain by motorists, it can’t get here soon enough this year considering the toll the long, hard winter has taken on our roads.

In fact, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has boosted funding for county highway projects to $27 million, an increase of $4.5 million over what had been budgeted.

“This year was a very, very bad winter,” Poloncarz said Tuesday, “and as a result of that we had to go back and not only take a look at the roads that we previously reviewed as part of the budget process of 2014, but also to determine if there were additional roads that needed to be completed.”

But don’t look for the orange cones and hard hats just yet. The temperatures still haven’t warmed up enough for crews to do much road work.

“They’re going to be getting under way by mid- to late May,” said Daniel W. Paskie, regional construction engineer with the DOT. “Putting down new asphalt can only be done in warm weather.”

Nearly 60 state projects are scheduled this year across Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties at a cost of about $130 million, up slightly from previous years, Paskie said.

Among the largest is a two-year, $41 million bridge rehabilitation over the Power Authority Reservoir in Lewiston and a $29 million paving project along the Southern Tier Expressway, I-86, to Salamanca.

Closer to Buffalo, the milling and paving that started on the Kensington Expressway last year will continue with two separate projects that stretch in both directions from Elm/Oak streets to the end at Genesee Street in Cheektowaga.

A three-year project on the Youngmann Highway to replace bridges over Military Road and Delaware Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda will begin, while a second year of paving continues along Sheridan Drive.

Other state projects include: milling and paving on Route 219, between Boston State Road, Route 391, in Hamburg and Route 39 in Springville; milling and paving on Route 400, between Seneca Street and Pound Street in Elma; and bridge replacement on the Niagara Thruway, I-190, over Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls.

Erie County – which maintains 1,200 miles of road – has more than 60 projects scheduled this construction season in 20 municipalities.

Nearly one-fifth of the county’s capital highway budget will be spent on two projects: reconstruction of Goodrich Road between Lapp Road and the Niagara County line in Clarence; and reconstruction of Brighton Road, from Niagara Falls Boulevard and Fries Road in the Town of Tonawanda.

Other projects include milling and paving to be done on Hopkins Road, between Dodge and Klein roads in Amherst; Sowles Road, between Route 20 and McKinley Parkway in Hamburg; and Eden Evans Center Road, between the Thruway exit and Derby Road.

Erie County has been getting blasted by complaints from residents upset by the potholes on county roads this winter. Highway crews would fill the potholes one day only to have snowplows rip out the patch the next time it snowed. As a result, Poloncarz used surplus funds and extra money from the state to pay for an additional $4.5 million in road projects.

That includes paving sections of Rowley and Cayuga Creek roads in Cheektowaga; Bayview Road, Pleasant Avenue and Lake Avenue in Hamburg; Eckhardt Road in Eden; and Waverly Road in Concord.

Poloncarz also will ask the County Legislature to fast-track the approval process needed to begin the work in hopes of preventing further delays.

A special legislative session has been called for Thursday.

“You’re not going to see construction crews on the street the next couple weeks,” Poloncarz said. “It’s going to take some weeks before that happens, but once they’re out there, there’s going to be a lot of them, and they’re going to be repairing over 118 miles of road in Erie County.”

This summer’s big road projects

At least $150 million in construction is planned on area roads this year by the state and Erie County. Here’s a sampling:

• Kensington Expressway: Resurfacing between Elm/Oak and Genesee Street in Cheektowaga.

• Route 219: Milling and paving between Route 391 in Hamburg and Route 39 in Springville.

• Youngmann Highway: Start of bridge replacement over Military and Delaware Roads, Town of Tonawanda.

• I-190: Bridge rehab over Power Authority Reservoir, Lewiston.

• I-190: Bridge replacement over Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls.

• Route 400: Milling and paving, between Seneca Street and Pound Road in Elma.

• Hopkins Road: Milling and paving between Dodge and Klein roads, Amherst.

• Goodrich Road: Reconstruction between Lapp Road and Niagara County line, Clarence.

• Brighton Road: Reconstruction between Niagara Falls Boulevard and Fries Road, Town of Tonawanda.

• Seneca Creek Road: Sealing pavement between Transit and Union roads, West Seneca.

• Sowles Road: Milling and paving between Route 20 and McKinley Parkway, Hamburg.

• Eckhardt Road: Milling and paving between Route 75 and East Eden Road, Eden.

• Rowley Road: Milling and paving between Indian and Borden roads, Cheektowaga.

• Whitehaven Road: Sealing pavement between Grand Island Boulevard and East River Road, Grand Island.

• Eden-Evans Center Road: Phase IV of milling and paving project between Thruway exit and Derby Road, Evans.

Source: State Department of Transportation, Erie County Department of Public Works