Sidewalk mandate slows repaving

GLOVERSVILLE – City residents and officials may encounter a sticky situation with the paving plan this year following a new mandate within the annual Consolidated Highway Improvement Program funding, Department of Public Works Director Kevin Jones notified the Common Council on Tuesday.

As of April 1, the state transferred the responsibility of administering the CHIPs funding from the state Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority to the state Comptroller’s Office, which has added new guidelines and regulations, Jones said.

Last year, he said, the city received approximately $360,000 in CHIPS funding, and paved 14 city streets across all six wards.

This year, the city has received an additional $35,000 in CHIPS funding, Jones said.

“At first pass I thought it was great, until I read all the guidelines that came from the state Comptroller’s Office on the CHIPS money,” Jones said. “Basically, they have told us that any resurfacing project we do, which alters the highway, we must abide with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and every street corner we go by, the sidewalks would need to be modified to meet the current ADA requirements.”

Jones said as a result, the city would need to alter the four sidewalks and curbing at every intersection to make them handicapped accessible, which ultimately would cut the number of streets it could repair in half.

As an example, he said repaving Prospect Avenue from Main Street to Kingsboro Avenue would have previously cost the city about $30,000, but with the concrete work at all the intersections, the cost would double.

“They have essentially given us an extra $35,000 with $100,000 in additional requirements to go with it,” Jones said. “Our street program, instead of 14 [streets], would be five.”

Jones said the city had a $1 million list last year of roads needing to be repaired. A third of the repairs on the list were completed last year, and in the ideal situation, the city would have moved on to the next third of the list this season, but other roads have fallen apart that weren’t on the city’s radar, Jones said.

He said the city’s previous approach of milling and filling would be considered altering the roadway, but there are exceptions the city could consider.

One exception is roadways without sidewalks, which are not affected by these stipulations. The other allows roadways to receive surface treatments consisting of oil and stone.

He said the method of oil and stone treatment is a lot more economical than the price of asphalt, but it does create a messy situation for road crews and drivers.

“It’s a process that works and we’ve used it for a long time,” Jones said. “The issue is, it’s messy and you’re going to have some migrant oil and some migrant stones. It’s going to be something that people are going to have to deal with.”

Both Mayor Dayton King and Jones said lobbying state officials would be the only solution to these new requirements, but that won’t fix the problem within this construction season.

“I’m not really sure how it works where the city is responsible for sidewalks,” King said. “I believe it’s the responsibility of the homeowner or business owner.”

The Common Council scheduled the General Services Committee to continue to discuss the new requirements at its next meeting June 12.