ALBANY — State legislators and local officials are calling on the state Department of Transportation to prioritize work on Route 22 in the towns of Canaan and Austerlitz, which they say is in desperate need of repair.
The towns of Canaan, Austerlitz and New Lebanon have pushed for the state to provide funding to mill and repave Route 22, which has not been paved in 24 years. The road is at the top of the state DOT’s priority list of projects in Columbia County.
State Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-43, and freshman Assemblyman Jake Ashby, R-107, sent a letter to the DOT asking the department begin work on a section of the state road in Canaan and Austerlitz. The road was scheduled to be completed this year, but the project was pushed until next summer.
“The road is currently a safety risk and is growing worse by the day,” Ashby said. “On a daily basis, families are driving down this road, and if we don’t act and fix this problem, a tragedy may occur.
“When the safety of my constituents is being ignored, I will not sit back and keep quiet. I hope the DOT will act and do the right thing.”
The department plans to repave Route 22 from the first state exit on Interstate 90 as it enters from Massachusetts, to Spencer Road in the towns of Canaan and Austerlitz, according to the DOT website.
“A multi-million dollar, in-depth rehabilitation of Route 22 between Spencer Road in Austerlitz and Interstate 90 in Canaan is being designed, with construction set to begin in 2019 as originally planned,” according to a statement from the DOT. “The project will include removing and replacing concrete and asphalt pavement, installing new subbase material underneath for better drainage and rebuilding road shoulders. This work is expected to keep this portion of Route 22 in good condition for more than 20 years.”
A $300,000 maintenance project to remove and replace the top layer of asphalt along the section of Route 22 is scheduled to be completed this summer, according to the department.
“The whole road is in bad shape,” Canaan Town Supervisor Rick Keavney said. “DOT also plans to do the strip of Route 22 from Route 102 across the bridge there. So, in all, they plan to do a couple tenths of a mile and it isn’t even the worst part. And for the future, they said when they get the funds, they will fix the road.”
Keavney, Canaan Town Councilwoman Brenda Adams and New Lebanon Town Supervisor Colleen Teal sent letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 12 asking for the state to provide special funding to DOT Region 8, which covers a large area from the southern border of Albany County to Westchester County, for milling and repaving Route 22.
“The project would require a whole new set of funding,” Keavney said. “It could cost from $5 to $6 million. It needs a special allocation from the state.”
The small rehabilitation project scheduled for next summer is estimated to cost $2.1 million, according to the DOT website.
The department has performed regular maintenance on the road, such as filling pot holes, for hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, Keavney said, but the patches do not last the winter.
Route 22’s condition is a safety hazard, Austerlitz Town Supervisor Robert Lagonia said.
“The potholes are wrecking cars; pot holes you can lose your car in,” Lagonia said. “It is inexcusable not to fix the road. The governor should come down and check the road out himself. It is a safety hazard and repairs cannot wait.”
State legislators echoed the concerns of local officials.
“The ongoing construction project for state Route 22 in the towns of Canaan and Austerlitz is critically important for these communities,” Marchione said. “We will continue working together, and with the state DOT, to advance this crucial project and help meet the important infrastructure needs of Columbia County.”