Crumbling Thruway in Seneca Nation pushes repair work into 2020

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SENECA NATION, N.Y. (WIVB) — Part of the Thruway running through the Seneca Nation is going to need a lot more work than what was originally planned.

After a long debate over whose responsibility it was to fix the roads, the Seneca Nation and the NYS Thruway Authority came to an agreement last month. Work began soon after this.

Originally, the work was supposed to be finished before winter, but road conditions turned out to be worse than expected.

“It has become abundantly clear from an engineering perspective that the underlying concrete base is in far worse condition than we had anticipated,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew Driscoll said in a letter Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. “In fact, we found that the concrete base of the roadway is crumbling and badly cracking in many locations, making it ineffective for our crews to simply pave over it.”

Driscoll wrote in his letter to Armstrong that the road’s surface needs a “sound concrete base.” As it is right now, crews can’t simply pave over that base due to the cracking, crumbling conditions.

Because of this, the Thruway Authority is going to start a bidding process for a contractor to perform the work this coming spring.

The work will include the removal of roughly five inches of the roadway’s surface, concrete pavement repairs and complete asphalt replacement.

This doesn’t mean work is simply shutting down until then. Crews will continue temporary partial-depth repairs to the worst sections of the roadway and shoulders. New line striping will also be added.

Read Driscoll’s letter to Armstrong here:

“Following our agreement on September 25, the New York State Thruway Authority commenced with the necessary evaluation and repairs to the more than 14 lane miles of pavement (eastbound and westbound driving lanes, passing lanes and shoulders) that traverses the Cattaraugus Territory.  

Over the past several weeks, our maintenance crews have been performing critical repairs and repaving much of the roadway surface to enhance safety for our motorists.  At the same time, Thruway engineers have been able to view the concrete base of the roadway to make assessments for the restoration and replacement of the pavement.  It is the first time they have been able to fully inspect the condition of this section of the Thruway in several years.

Work also continues on a detailed engineering design report which I will share with you in the coming weeks, but in the interim, it has become abundantly clear from an engineering perspective that the underlying concrete base is in far worse condition than we had anticipated.  In fact, we found that the concrete base of the roadway is crumbling and badly cracking in many locations, making it ineffective for our crews to simply pave over it.  A new and durable asphalt driving surface requires a sound concrete base, and its current condition as confirmed by our engineers’ assessment will simply not allow for that. We have determined that completing the required repairs of the concrete base along with full asphalt pavement replacement is not achievable in the timeframe remaining this Fall. Therefore, the Thruway Authority will initiate a competitive bidding process to secure a contractor to perform the work in the Spring. 

In the meantime, our crews will continue to perform temporary partial-depth repairs to the most severely deteriorated sections of the roadway and shoulders to help extend its durability in preparation for the winter months ahead. New line striping will also be applied to enhance visibility and safety.

This critical work will improve the condition of the roadway for the winter and a contractor will be ready to begin work as soon as practicable in the Spring.  This more extensive project, which will be a full depth replacement, will include the removal of approximately five inches of the current roadway surface, repairs to the underlying concrete pavement and complete asphalt replacement. In addition to the improved driving surface, the project will include numerous safety upgrades such as guiderail replacement, ditch cleaning and new striping. 

Our focus all along is to ensure a safe and reliable roadway for travelers and while we have been able to make substantial progress by completing this work this Fall, the roadway’s condition confirmed our concerns that a much more extensive restoration project will be required.  

Sincerely, ​

 Matthew J. Driscoll​”

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