Hoping For Smoother Summer Trips

This past week, the ice on Chautauqua Lake broke up. Also, the pavement on Route 394 north of Stow is breaking up. These are sure signs of Spring!

Within the past couple of years, I wrote about the then-abominal condition of Route 394 around the area of the Interchange with I-86. Last year, the state DOT came in with contractors and that area is now in fantastic shape.

Unfortunately, with our weather, road maintenance is an ongoing issue. Trying to beat back the effects of ice and snow on highways will always be with us. When it is spring in Chautauqua County, there will be road problems someplace.

To give the DOT credit, they would have a lot easier time maintaining our roads if we had a climate like Florida’s. Yet, even with climate change, I don’t see things changing much in Upstate New York. I think we are still going to be stuck with snow, ice, pot holes – and roads breaking up in the spring.

About five years ago, the DOT put a “slurry and seal” job on Route 394 between Stow and Chautauqua. That made the road look a lot better but it was really a “band-aid” fix. This past year, the southern section of Route 394, between Stow and Lakewood got a “mill and fill” job with new blacktop being laid as a finishing coat. That cost more money but should last longer than the road fix did north of Stow.

Now, I have been told, that the DOT is considering resurfacing the road this summer from the I-86 Interchange north and west to Chautauqua Institution and perhaps even to Mayville. That would be terrific for all of us living on this road — and I hope it happens! It doesn’t take a civil engineer to understand the current condition of the road. All the way from Stow to Mayville, you are dodging potholes and trying not to break a spring in your car. If the DOT only does a patch job this summer, can you imagine what the highway will look like next year at this time?!

There is also a rumor that if the DOT does resurface the road, they may try what is called a “train paving” system. In that process, the old pavement is chewed up, mixed with oil, re-laid and rolled — and then a finished coat of black top is applied on top of that. This would result in the pavement holding up better than anything we have seen yet.

I will admit that I am not an expert on road building, but I do drive on them. I also want to cheer for those who are responsible for their maintenance. There is probably not another public service that engenders as much political agreement as do good roads. So, if the “gods” of the DOT are listening, I hope they can make my dream come true for a better road this summer for those of us tied together by that strip of highway that runs from Stow to Chautauqua and then on into Mayville.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.