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June 2014 Column - County should explore all options to complete additional road work


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oneilj - Posted on 04 June 2014

When it comes to repairing the damage done to our roadways this past winter, I am discouraged that the County Executive has not been more aggressive when approaching the problem. His immediate response has been that we simply can’t do better. Instead of telling residents we can’t, we need to figure out how to say we can and deliver the services their taxes pay for.

All 11 members of the Legislature have agreed that we need to fund additional road work this year and approved a resolution supporting the use of $5 million from fund balance. When presented with the idea, the County Executive’s Office immediately said the county doesn’t have enough staff to do any extra work. However, not only have we heard from county employees who disagree, but towns and villages have said if given funding, their crews would be willing to do some work on county roads.

In my district alone, I have talked with representatives from the Town of Clarence and the Village of Akron who have said this partnership is feasible this year. This has been done in the past and has proven to be a beneficial collaboration for the municipalities and taxpayers.

The administration has been unwilling to apply additional, available funds to road work. It is important to note that the Town of Boston recently placed the county on official notice of poor road conditions.  As more complaints pour in, the more the County Executive dismisses the problem. Every single motorist should be outraged that the County Executive refuses to put a priority on our infrastructure. In many cases, roads have become so bad that they are a serious public safety concern. That is unacceptable. I urge the County Executive to stop refusing to do additional work, and find a way to fix as many roads as possible immediately.

Currently, Erie County is slated to complete only $27 million in road repairs this year, which allows for 60 projects. We can all agree that more work needs to be done. Many county roads are in rough shape and will only get worse if not repaired this year. The Legislature’s request for a list of additional critical roads projects that could be done with this funding has been ignored. I recently contacted the Commissioner of DPW again asking for this important list, after waiting several weeks from the first request, so the county can find a way to check off as many projects as possible.

In closing, I want to remind motorists that road work is ongoing on local, county and state roads this summer. Please be mindful of workers and slow down in construction zones. Abide by all posted signage and ensure that everyone gets to go home safely at the end of the day. Road work is a necessary inconvenience, but speeding through work areas can be extremely dangerous for you and those working.