After a rough winter that dumped almost 40 inches of snow on the South Fork, many of the roads in Southampton Town have sustained potholes and other damage.
Last week, Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said that it is important for the town to better prepare for similar winters by fixing the worst of the high-traffic roads in the town now and purchasing newer heavy-duty equipment.
In a presentation to the Town Board on Thursday, May 7, Mr. Gregor asked for an additional $1.3 million for the department to cover the costs of reclamation work for Speonk-Riverhead Road, Noyac Road and Majors Path. The work has already begun this week on the first two roads, and work on Majors Path is expected to begin on Monday.
“This winter has been the worst since I’ve been here,” Mr. Gregor, who has been on the job for almost five and a half years, said during his proposal. “We’re actually thinking about next winter, and we’re already thinking about hurricane season. The roads are the hallmark of the town—they’re the socioeconomic engine. We need to act now.”
Mr. Gregor said that simply filling in potholes, which many of his workers needed to do over the last few weeks, is not enough to make those roads safer.
Reclamation involves recycling the pavement of existing roadways by pulverizing old asphalt and base materials and mixing them with cement and water. Mr. Gregor said that process is more cost-effective and stabilizes roadways better than filling in potholes or doing overlay work, and that it should last about 10 to 15 years, weather permitting.
In addition to funding for the reclamation work, the highway superintendent asked for new equipment that would work better in severe snowstorms. He noted that more than half of the department’s fleet of trucks have lighter plows that cannot handle more than 18 inches of snow, but that those trucks would not be able to have 2,000-pound plows installed. He requested heavier trucks, adding that the town could sell some of its older vehicles to help offset the cost.
Mr. Gregor also requested a 51-inch-wide sidewalk snowblower at a cost of $145,000. The current machine the town has works well in about 8 inches of snow, he said, but struggles with large piles that come from plowing and shoveling.
“When you have 15-foot mounds on top of the sidewalk, there’s not much you can do,” he said. “People expect this to be done. That’s a piece of equipment that’ll last 20 years.”
After members of the Town Board commended Mr. Gregor and his employees for the work they did this winter, some offered suggestions as to how the town could purchase new trucks without breaking the bank. Councilman Stan Glinka recommended that the town look into different ways of financing the trucks, perhaps even leasing them.
This week, Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst agreed that it was time the town start thinking differently when it comes to budgeting for snow removal, but in a way that was “highly mindful of taxpayer dollars.
“We are taking his requests very seriously and we are certainly cognizant of the fact … in the aftermath of these stormy seasons, that we do have to pay some level of extra attention to our highway infrastructure,” she said.