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Windham Seeking Money from Albany

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/29/24 | 2/29/24

By Michael Ryan

WINDHAM - Pavement smoothing season is coming and Windham roads chief Gary Thorington is going to Albany to push for as much money as possible to keep getting ‘er done.

Thorington, at a town council meeting last week, presented his annual 284 schedule for approval, detailing the sections of local highways he is planning to resurface this summer.

Plans could change, based upon State funding aid, but the current slate calls for approximately 3.5 miles, shooting to have everything finished before the busy July 4th holiday weekend.

Thorington intends to apply hot mix asphalt for 1.5 miles, starting at Old Road/Nauvoo road and leading to the midpoint of that rural stretch.

It is slated to cost $140,000 while Thorington will spend $143,416 more applying micro-surface or fibermat to roughly a 2-mile section, again commencing at Old Road/Nauvoo, going to Galway or Cross Road.

Long before work begins, Thorington will trek to the State capital as part of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, lobbying to keep the fiscal status quo or maybe improve it.

Windham, like every municipality throughout New York, depends on dollars set aside in the well known CHIPS program and other sources.

The current scuttlebutt is that State lawmakers may try to cut $100 million from the important pool, including $60 million from CHIPS.

Towns Superintendents of Highways members not only don’t want that to happen, they want greenbacks added, arguing that the cost of materials and outside pavers to do the jobs are evermore rising.

“There’s never enough money to go around,” Thorington said. “Ideally, you want to target ten percent of your roads every year. We have 38 miles so we’re a hair below that but, wishful thinking, we’ll get an increase.” 

Thorington and his Town Superintendents of Highways colleagues will gather in Albany, March 5 & 6, trying to talk sense into State decision-makers, based on how they see things anyway.

The State budget is due for passage in early April. Around that same date, Thorington will offer town council members a decision of a different sort, requesting authorization to order a new snowplow.

Windham’s current fleet is in good shape. However, the wait time for larger vehicles is 8 to 14 months if not longer, Thorington said, therefore wanting to submit the order ASAP.

Purchasing the new International will be a bitter pecuniary pill to swallow, expected to be somewhere in the $300,000 neighborhood, probably not road worthy until the winter of 2025/26.

Council members gave the green light to both the 284 plan and to proceed with writing specifications for the truck buy, replacing a single axle with a tandem rig.

The fleet of four heavy duty plows will henceforth be Internationals, in addition to a 12-foot snow-pusher for whenever “stuff goes western,” Thorington said, referring to especially heavy storms. 

Thorington had more pleasant news related to the expense of keeping local roads sanded and salted in icy, slippery winter weather.

A year ago, he recommended switching to a new salting system, saying it would be slightly more costly at the start but less expensive and much more efficient over the long haul.

“I looked at the numbers so far and the change in de-icing has saved us between $40,000 to $65,000,” Thorington said.

While acknowledging that the winter, thus far, has not been a hard one, the roads boss noted, “we are out just as often with little storms.

“I figured the numbers conservatively but there is nothing more effective to de-ice a road than salt,” rather than the former old school sand/salt mix.

“And we haven’t even started spring cleanup yet,” Thorington said, noting significantly fewer man hours and less equipment wear and tear will be necessary, not having to remove globs of sand from the roads.

“We bought more salt but much less sand. We didn’t have to truck the sand in or use man hours mixing it which all adds up,” Thorington said.

And finally, Thorington said it did not involve a stupendous amount of cash but the professional gesture was appreciated when the Grand Gorge Tire Company declined to charge the town for recent services rendered.

“They remounted and balanced four brand new tires for us and said, “it’s on us,’” Thorington said. “The son of the owner lives in Windham and told me, ‘thank you for taking care of the town.’ That makes you feel good.”

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