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    City of Ithaca to spend additional $250K to improve roads

    City workers fill potholes at Cecil Malone Dr.
    The city of Ithaca has added $250,000 to the Department of Public Work’s budget to purchase additional asphalt for this spring’s road construction work. This increase happens at a time when federal and state fundings are not reaching Ithaca, according to mayor Svante Myrick.

    The city hasn’t been able to carry out major road reconstruction projects in the past years due to shortage of funding. According to National Priorities Project, an NGO that analyzes the federal budget, New York state’s federal funding for interstate highways and public road construction was cut from $1.9 billion to $1.57 billion in 2014, a near 18 percent drop.

    “On any given day, we now have about 100,000 people driving in and out of the city when there is only about 30,000 people living here,” Myrick said. “Those 30,000 people have to pay for all the damage.”

    The roads in Ithaca are getting weaker by the year despite city workers doing short-term construction repairs Monday through Friday because the city’s road infrastructure is in a state of decline, Ray Benjamin, assistant superintendent of DPW streets and facilities division, said.

    “A road will last about 25 years until it needs a complete rebuild because when you start getting cracks and potholes, water gets in and it reaches below ground to the base of the road. That’s where we are now,” Benjamin said.

    The transitional periods from winter to spring makes roads weaker and more susceptible to damage because the water particles that seeped into the asphalt are melting, causing it to fall apart more easily, Benjamin added. As a result, he said the cold asphalt patches city workers are putting on potholes and cracks almost everyday aren’t improving the roads much.

    The roads are also receiving damage from the rising traffic flow in the city as Ithaca becomes a hub for commuters, Myrick said.

    Despite the cut in federal funding, Myrick said the city has taken the initiative to improve the roads by adding quarter of a million dollars to the DPW’s $20 million budget. With this increase, the city will be purchasing about $1 million worth of asphalt.

    Exactly when and where the all construction will happen is yet to be decided, Benjamin said. Road works usually begin in the first or second week of May, depending on whether the temperature is warm enough for asphalt to harden, he said. City workers will also have to accommodate IC and Cornell University’s graduations because traffic will be much heavier during those weekends.

    However, Kenn Young, owner of Inn on Columbia and a long time Ithaca resident, doesn’t seem convinced that the road conditions will get much better.

    “I’ve been in Ithaca for 40 years that in the spring time, I know it’s pothole season,” Young said, “It’s almost endemic to this environment.”

    Until construction can begin in the spring, Benjamin said residents can report a pothole to the city, in which workers will respond within a few days to put in a temporary fill.
    As for the road conditions, Myrick said he and other city officials are well aware of the problematic state.

    “We know that the roads are in a bad shape. We drive on the roads and ride on the buses, too, and we know that the state of the roads is not good enough,” Myrick said. “We’d like to do better and we’re trying the best we can.”

    You can file a pothole complaint here.

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