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Potholes to remain a little longer in Schenectady

Long, cold winter has crews backed up

Thursday, May 29, 2014
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Potholes, some filled, some not, cover Columbia Street in Schenectady on Thursday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Potholes, some filled, some not, cover Columbia Street in Schenectady on Thursday.

— The plague of potholes in Schenectady will continue into June, city officials said.

Although they have crews on overtime, starting at 6 a.m. on weekdays and working Saturdays, there’s probably “a couple of weeks” left to fill the potholes caused by the bitter winter, Commissioner of General Services Carl Olsen said.

Then crews will go back to areas that are “more patch than road” and mill out the entire surface, replacing it with fresh asphalt.

That step is usually underway by this time of year. But this past winter was among the worst in the last 10 years, Olsen said. That created many more potholes than normal.

“We had a lot of extended bitter weather,” he said.

There are so many potholes that crews are not triaging them and filling the worst ones first. They’re moving by zone, methodically filling holes block by block.

Olsen said that was the fastest way to get the job done.

“Rather than running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” he said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy acknowledged that the decision has left some neighborhoods with potholes that have gone unfilled for months.

“It’s the most efficient, but if you’re four days down the line, you’re not happy,” he said. “But the old way — send a crew to Woodlawn to fill one, then to Bellevue — it’s really a waste of resources.”

Crews started working Saturdays last week to try to fill the potholes faster, he added.

Two employees are also now coming to work at 6 a.m. on weekdays to pick up hot mix asphalt from the plants, which are 20 to 30 minutes away from the city. They get back by 7:30 a.m., when the rest of the workers arrive.

“So they can immediately begin working,” Olsen said.

He said the crews couldn’t start filling potholes as early as normal because the weather stayed cold. The asphalt plants weren’t open.

He also couldn’t add Saturday crews until recently.

“Early in the season, the plant is not going to open for you on a Saturday,” he said. “Now they’re open six days a week.”

Because there are so many potholes, the city has spent more than it budgeted for hot mix asphalt to repair winter pothole damage, Olsen added.

 
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