Rough ride top spring priority for DOT


Here in the second half of winter, rainy weather last fall is still affecting drivers between West Leyden and Boonville.

The New York Department of Transportation says a stretch of rainy weather in late September and early October coincided with work to prepare much of Route 294 in northern Oneida County for repaving.

The base material never had a chance to cure before cold weather set in, and now frequent freeze-thaw, up-and-down temperatures with ample precipitation is making things worse.

Help is on the way with warm weather in spring. But until then, drivers on the highway are facing a myriad of potholes, loose pavement and gravel, mud and in stretches, near dirt-road

“In spring, when weather conditions improve and paving can be accomplished, this segment of highway will be region’s number one pavement priority,” DOT regional spokesman Jim Piccola said in a statement Thursday.

Piccola explained that the first phase of a cold-in-place pavement improvement project along six miles of Route 294 was started when the wet and cold conditions arrived earlier than usual.

In cold-in-place work, the existing pavement is removed, ground, and mixed with new material and laid back down to form a base. It typically is left to cure for 10 days, then a binder course with bigger aggregate is added, followed by a top course with finer material including friction stone for car- and truck-tire traction.

November turned out colder than normal, with significant snowfall by mid-month. The base layer never properly cured. And without that, anything that goes on top won’t stay and would likely be largely wasted.

“We want to make sure you’ve got that good base because then everything else you put on top of it would just be throwing money away,” Piccola said. 

The road is rural but is a bustling link between the Rome area and Boonville, the largest village in northeastern Oneida County. It also gets traffic from trucks hauling waste to the regional landfill of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority is on Route 294 in the town of Ava. The authority’s website notes that using state DOT standards, the road is able to handle the estimated 50 trucks going to and from the landfill daily hauling trash to it and leachate from it, along with the unrelated trucks hauling logs, bulk milk, gravel and other cargo.

Since then, sections have deteriorated with frequent wide springs in temperature along with precipitation, deepening the freeze-thaw cycle that is the bane of pavement.

When road crews aren’t clearing snow and ice, they’re monitoring Route 294 and patching potholes, Piccola said.

The DOT will assess the situation in the spring. 

“We have may have to redo the whole thing with the cold-in-place, start all over, or we may just have to mill sections of it again,” Piccola said.


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