Award Winning Erie County Department of Public Works Projects Recognized by American Public Works Association

Modified: January 24, 2017 12:43pm

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The Erie County Department of Public Works (“ECDPW”) has announced that it has received three 2016 Project Awards from the American Public Works Association (“APWA”) Western Branch, which will be presented to ECDPW personnel at the WNY APWA Awards banquet on February 2, 2017. Two of the awards are in the Transportation category, as ECDPW will be recognized for its role in the Tonawanda Rails to Trails project along with Phase I of the Goodrich Road project. The Department will also receive an Emergency Construction/Repair award for work completed on two historic concrete and stone block culverts along Ward Road within Chestnut Ridge Park.

“Our Department of Public Works strives every day to provide the best possible roads for motorists and residents throughout Erie County, and this recognition is well-deserved. They tackle projects big and small in all seasons of the year and are on the front lines of protecting and maintaining our considerable infrastructure,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “We have more lane miles of road than 3 states, along with numerous bridges, dams, and culverts that all need to be maintained. I thank the Department of Public Works for their hard work and congratulate them on this recognition.”

The replacement of the two historic culverts on Ward Road at Chestnut Ridge Park, originally constructed in the early 1930’s, became necessary after poor hydrologic conditions along with unreinforced stone headwalls caused significant deterioration and increased instability over the years and eventually led to the closure of the roadway to motorized vehicles. Preservation of the culverts involved close work with historic resource agencies and attention to the structures’ original historic nature as well as their surroundings in the park. The culverts’ original stones, which were sourced from cobblestone streets in downtown Buffalo, were carefully preserved and used to enhance the new culverts in a design that is consistent with the Park’s historic setting and, importantly, with modern standards for hydrological and structural design. The project was completed in May 2016.

“Chestnut Ridge Park is the crown jewel of the Erie County parks system, and every inch of it is a treasure to be explored and preserved,” said Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Daniel J. Rizzo. “We have many historic structures in the Park, including these culverts, and DPW’s work to preserve them has been critical to maintaining our Parks for future generations to enjoy. They do a great job and deserve this recognition.”

Goodrich Road, functionally classified as a rural local road, is a north-south roadway used by approximately 2,100 vehicles per day. In June 2013 ECDPW performed a preliminary assessment of Goodrich Road from Clarence center Road to Tonawanda Creek and determined that the worst portion was north of Lapp Road.

The paved roadway was originally built in 1938 on top of an existing compacted macadam base. Pavement cores that were obtained during the preliminary design showed that the roadway section remained relatively unchanged through the years with only minor maintenance and resurfacing of the asphalt. In addition to the pavement, travel lane width was also an issue. Originally meant as a farm road and not intended to carry the vehicle load it does today, Goodrich was an exceptionally narrow 2-lane roadway with 10-foot travel lanes and mostly non-existent shoulders, bordered by roadside ditches that began directly at the edge of the pavement. Many of these ditches’ embankments were built at a 1:1 slope with depths often exceeding three feet.

A large and costly project, Goodrich Road was split into three phases for completion. Phase I involved work on Goodrich from Lapp Road to County Road, with shoulder widening and drainage improvements along the stretch. Project contractor CATCO encountered construction delays such as pockets of extremely poor soils, unknown waterlines that needed to be relocated, and even the discovery of old “corduroy” road dating back at least a century and in need of removal to move the project forward. Wetland considerations and restrictions requiring permits also slowed construction as did the need for extensive tree removal in the right of way. Despite these hindrances, Phase I of the Goodrich Road project was substantially completed in late August 2016.

The Tonawanda Rails to Trails Project was completed in August 2016. A 4-mile long connecting trail that runs from Kenmore Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda to State Street in the City of Tonawanda, the project connects at the south end with the City of Buffalo’s North Buffalo Rails to Trails and on the north end to the Tonawanda Rails to Trails Extension, which is currently under design and will stretch from State Street in the City of Tonawanda to East Niagara Street and the Erie Canalway Trail. The Trail is a 12-foot wide asphalt pathway with various access points and small parking areas at each end. Federal funds provided 80% of the funding for the Trails project, with Erie County funding the remaining 20%. Design work on the Project began in 2005 and construction began in 2015. The Trail replaces an old, disused railroad bed that had bisected the community and also features a High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (“HAWK”) signal at the point where the Trail crosses Sheridan Drive. The first of its kind to be used in New York State, the HAWK signal both increases pedestrian safety on the Trail and enhances motorists’ awareness of pedestrians seeking to cross Sheridan.

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Public Works, visit