Despite Challenges Of Winter, DOT Keeps County Roads In Great Shape

If you drove down West Lake Road (Route 394) last winter without your teeth rattling from the bumps — you were in the minority. However, the DOT has recently been actively addressing the problems of the road and things are improving. Observing construction projects may be a “guy” thing, and perhaps that is why I find it so fascinating to watch these jobs develop.

The section of the road from Hadley Bay to the Lakewood Village line has been resurfaced and is in much better shape. This section of the road was given what might be called a “shave and pave job.” They shaved off an inch or two of old macadam and resurfaced it with new blacktop. Now it is a wonderful section of road to drive.

Under a separate contract, the State is now dealing with the worst section of the highway around Stow and the I-86 interchange. Since this area is adjacent to the Interstate, it is my guess that the DOT was probably able to get some funding from the federal government to help out on the cost. Whatever the funding source, this section of the road was a dilapidated mess of old concrete paving so it needed special treatment and a separate construction contract is understandable.

A lot of time has been spent in this area removing and replacing the shoulders of the road, and the finished highway will be somewhat narrower than the current design. Drainage also has been put in. I had been told that the base of the new repaved highway here would be made by cracking up the old concrete followed by a finished layer of blacktop. Yet, apparently, things were so bad near the bottom of the Ramsey Road hill, that they had to remove sections of the old concrete and rebuild that base with blacktop. Had they just ripped out all of this concrete, it might have actually saved money.

But now is not the time second-guess the DOT. We should all just be grateful that the road is being fixed. We also should be hoping that what is being done will last a few years. We all know is how hard it is to maintain roads with our brutal winters around here.

One thing I will give the contractors credit for is that during all of this, they have been able to keep traffic moving. Since I live along Route 394, I can vouch for the fact that once Chautauqua Institution opens… the traffic increases about four-fold. The “cone boys” (as I call them) have been actively moving traffic back and forth from one side of the road to the other with orange traffic cone markers. You need to stay on your toes when you are driving back and forth to Lakewood because the traffic patterns here can change a couple of times a day.

A lot of what government does is invisible to us. Most of us don’t regularly use the court system or the many departments of government located in a place like Mayville. However, everyday we drive on the roads and we want them to be smooth and safe. So, we should toast the DOT and the road construction crews when we see good things happening. “Cheers” to everyone involved in bringing new life back to the old road that runs along the west side of Chautauqua Lake.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.