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September 20, 2019 - 3:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county highway, genesee county, news.

It's been another busy year for the County Highway Department, Superintendent Tim Hens told members of the Legislature during his annual department review at the Public Service Committee meeting on Thursday.

In 2019, the county received $1.7 million from the state for roads, bridges, and culverts, plus another $382,183 for road paving.

There are 92 bridges in the county with a span of greater than 20 feet. The condition rating is 5.16, up from 5.11 last year.

There are currently nine bridges in the county posted to warn away drivers with heavy loads. This year, three of those bridges are being replaced. They are: Caswell Road, Searls Road, and Pratt Road bridges.

Taking into account all bridges greater than five feet long, much progress has been made over the past three years, Hens said.

“We did an inventory and assessment study in 2016 and identified our top 30 worst bridges,” Hens said. “We have replaced 18 of those. That’s better than half, which is pretty good. With three of them currently being replaced by the end of the year, that number will go up by three by the end of the year.”

Those state programs are going to be dependent in future years on what the federal government does, which Hens said is a concern. He's uncertain about congressional approval and whether the bill will be passed before the 2020 election.

There are 260 centerline miles of highway the county maintains. The average condition rating is now 5.69, an improvement from the previous year.

Paving projects completed in 2019:

  • Horseshoe Lake Road, Stafford
  • South Lake Road, Pembroke
  • Prole Road Extension, Stafford
  • South Street Road, Le Roy
  • Colby Road, Darien
  • Hickox, Walker, and Gillette Road, Alexander

Another project completed in 2019 is the EMS training ground and new firing range at the Emergency Services office location on Bank Street Road.

There are currently 61 employees in the department, for a total of 56.75 full-time equivalents, up by two from 2018.

The proposed budget for 2020 us $5,527,130, which is an increase over 2019 because of the rising cost of salt for snow and ice removal, and increased health care costs.

Salt prices are going up about 5 percent.

Gas prices and asphalt prices have remained stable, Hens said.

Obviously we have some funding concerns going forward, Hens said.

There is at least $125 million in capital projects pending in the county over the next 10 years.

"That’s not the jail. That’s not water. That’s other stuff," Hens said. "We’re going to need federal aid. I hoping that this new federal authorization has some money in it for roads for counties, some relief for counties.”

March 19, 2019 - 11:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in infrastructure, news, county highway.

There are 95 bridges and 256 culverts in the county's infrastructure inventory and combined they're worth about $70 million, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens told members of the Public Service Committee on Monday.

That's a conservative estimate, Hens said.

He arrived at the number based on the amount spent on bridge and culvert replacement over the past three years without adjusting for inflation.  

Genesee County is one of three counties in the state that are economically responsible for all bridges and culverts on non-state roads, including those in towns and villages. In every other county, towns and villages must maintain and replace old bridges.

It's been that way since 1939 when the board of supervisors passed legislation giving county control of bridges and culverts.

A bridge (defined as more than 20 feet long) can be expected to have a safe, useful life of 50 years. The average bridge in the county was constructed in 1968, Hens said.

To keep up with the replacement cycle of bridges, the county needs to replace two bridges a year but in recent years, with cuts in federal aid, the county has only been able to replace one bridge a year.

Typically, state and federal aid helps pay for bridge and culvert replacement but as that aid is cut back, the county may need to turn to other sources of local revenue, such as sales tax.

January 15, 2019 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county parks, news, county highway, notify.

Under a budget amendment resolution recommended for approval by the Public Service Committee on Monday, Paul Osborn, the county's park supervisor will become deputy superintendent of the County Highway Department.

Osborne will be responsible for both the county's parks and for maintenance of all county buildings in his new role.

The move is possible because the county's supervisor of buildings and grounds, Terry Ross, is retiring.

That position is being eliminated from the budget. A new senior building maintenance mechanic position is being created. That position will be part-time and will be filled by Ross.

The annual salary of the new deputy highway superintendent position will be $74,000, effective Jan. 28.

While the budget must be amended to shift the allocation of expenses, there is no additional expenditure for the county.

On other highway department resolutions recommended for approval by the committee:

  • Funding a $184,000 consulting and design agreement, funded by a federal grant, with Barton & Loguidice, for construction of a new Pratt Road Bridge over the Tonawanda Creek.
  • Acceptance of a state grant of $18,483.37 for culvert replacements.
  • Purchase of a new 2019 F-750 dump truck body from Van Bortel Ford in East Rochester at a cost not to exceed $162,897.73. Previously, the Legislature had approved a budget expenditure for this item of $165,000.
  • Purchase of a new Ford F-150 pickup truck from Van Bortel Ford in East Rochester at a cost not to exceed $32,706. Previously, the Legislature approved a Road Machinery Fund with a truck purchase authorized for up to $33,313.
  • Purchase of a new 14,000-pound capacity lift from Rotary Lift in Madison, Ind., at a cost not to exceed $43,065.32. In the 2019 budget, $59,000 was set aside for this item.
  • Set a new fee schedule for use of park pavilions and rooms:
    • Genesee County Park pavilions A, B, S, and E, $70; Pavilion D, $125; pavilions B1, B2, S3, E1, E2, F, G, H; and Fleming, $30;
    • DeWitt Recreation Area: Pavilion 1, $100; Pavilion 2 $125, and Pavilion 3, $30;
    • Interpretive Center: Discover Zone, $50, Activity Room, $150; Entire building (weekends only) $300; special event fee, $250.
  • ACORNS is donating $5,677 to the county for a Student Conservation Association internship. ACORNS is also donating a dolly and cabinet to the County Park.
  • ACORNS is seeking approval for its annual fall 5K/10K race and walk in the County Park on Oct. 6.
September 19, 2018 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county highway, tim hens, news, notify, infrastructure.

img_2045.jpg

During the Public Service Committee meeting Tuesday, Highway Superintendent Tim Hens updated members of the County Legislature on the work of his department.

On funding, the proposed county road budget for 2019 is $5,527,130. Asphalt prices have increased 20 percent in 2018. Salt prices are up 16 percent. Gas prices have gone from $2 a gallon to $2.35 and climbing, though prices should stabilize in 2019, Hens said. The department has 57 employees (54.25 full-time equivalents), working in administration, highway, parks, airport, fleet, and facility maintenance.     

Besides a share of the general fund, the department receives grants for projects. State aid in 2018 has been $1.6 million, plus $382,193 from the PAVE-NY fund, $240,498 for extreme weather recovery.

Federal aid, Hens said, is still limited.

The county, including applications from towns, has 31 applications made to BRIDGE-NY, with an announcement for funding expected in the fall. 

Hens anticipates needing $2,131,466 for roach machinery in 2019. The department is making lease payments on a dozer, loader, an excavator, and needs a wheel loader, pickup, 2.5-ton truck, and mid-sized track excavator.

The county is responsible for 260 miles of highway. There are 92 bridges longer than 20 feet and 278 bridges and culverts longer than five feet and less than 20 feet. 

"We need to replace two bridges a year to keep our heads above water and we have been doing one bridge a year based on available federal funding," Hens said. 

The rating for the Lyons Street Bridge has been reduced from eight tons to seven. Pratt Road Bridge has been reduced from 19 tons to seven and is scheduled for replacement next year.

Reconstruction of the Stroh Road Bridge is nearly complete and it should open Oct. 1, three weeks ahead of schedule. 

Four culverts in the county of less than 20-foot span were replaced this summer.

The county also completed paving or overlay projects on Indian Falls Road, North Lake Road, North Byron Road, Prole Road Extension, South Street in Pavilion, Colby Road, Hickox, Walker, and Gillate roads in Alexander. 

These projects often included shoulder widening to 30 feet.

The widening has gone over well with residents in those areas, Hens said, who now have more room for walking and biking.

Much of the material used for this work is recycled asphalt from the work at the County Airport to replace the runway and taxiways. This has produced more than 16,000 tons of asphalt for the county to process and reuse.

"It's cheap material," Hens said. "But it's not free. We still have to process it and handle it."

As for county parks, Hens praised the work of Shannon Lyaski, conservation education program coordinator, and Paul Osborn, parks director.

"We've seen year-over-year growth in the environmental programs," Hens said. "We've hit record numbers for revenue and people attending events at the County Park." 

He said Lyaski has done a good job with programming for events at the Interpretive Nature Center.

The revenue generated by these programs cover her salary, Hens said.

As for Osborn, Hens said he's a master at rounding up volunteer workers and scavenging for material for structures in the parks.

"He flips over rocks and pulls people out and he's got people down there cleaning, cutting and trimming," Hens said.

One of the annual programs at the County Park is Camp Hard Hat, which brings in high school students in to build a project under the supervision of a BOCES instructor.

This year, the crew built a footbridge using guardrails Osborn scavenged from the old Stroh Road Bridge.

Attendance has also been up at the DeWitt Recreation Area.

Hens said work on a bridge through the wetlands in the park for the Ellicott Trail should be completed by fall. The county is waiting on the Town of Batavia to finish its part of the trail and Hens is hopeful the trail will open next spring.

For facilities, significant projects in 2018 include a new jail elevator, a security system, new fire alarm for the County Courthouse, and completion of an energy performance contract. For 2019, the county is waiting on a grant for the stonework on the facade of the jail building and a grant is pending for energy upgrades at the Animal Shelter.

In the 20 years since Hens became highway superintendent, the County has invested $30 million in capital improvements, which includes new hangars, a new terminal, and a new runway and taxiways. The funds were all generated by grants or fees for use of the airport and fuel so there have been no direct costs to local taxpayers.

There are 21 jobs at the airport, including private employers, and generates $2.35 million in economic impact.

The airport has brought in more money than it cost in 16 of the past 17 years. Hens anticipates the airport will only break even in 2018 due to a prolonged winter and construction projects.

Pete Zeliff is building a new hangar for corporate jets, which should help generate more revenue for the county through additional fuel sales.

Hens has also been heavily involved in public water projects with several new projects starting this year and more planned for 2019.

PHOTO: Tim Hens in the foreground and Laura Wadhams, the county's new assistant engineer, who started her job a little over a week ago.

September 19, 2017 - 4:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in infrastructure, county highway, news.

towntruckspavingsept292017.jpg

Genesee County is leading the state in shared services among municipalities, Highway Superintendent Tim Hens told members of the County Legislature on Monday.

As an example, he pointed to paving work on South Main Street Road this week.

Hauling in asphalt are trucks from Pavilion, Byron, Elba (two), Batavia (three), Stafford (two), Alexander and Bergen.

The crews will also resurface Byron Road this week.  

The $570,000 project is paid for by a state grant.

The South Main project is 3.8 miles and Byron is 4.5 miles.

"It seems things like just keep getting better and better," Hens said. "We have a great mix of (town) superintendents."

September 19, 2017 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county highway, news.

The financial outlook for the multifaceted County Highway Department looks pretty much unchanged for 2018, Superintendent Tim Hens told members of the County Legislature on Monday.

Hens presented a department review during the Public Service Committee meeting.

"We're proposing a fairly flat budget and general fund contribution to County Highway," Hens said. "It is actually exactly the same as it was in 2017."

After two winters of mild weather, the county hasn't used much salt recently and with low oil prices the past few years, the cost of asphalt has remained low. Even with hurricane Harvey that hit Houston, causing a bump in fuel prices, Hens expects costs to return to their pre-Harvey level before long.

"I don't expect oil and gas to really fluctuate too much," Hens said.

A pressure point however is the county's bridges and culverts. 

The county has 100 bridges eligible for federal aid. The typical lifespan of a bridge is 50 to 75 years.

"About half of our Federal bridges are what are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete," Hens said.

Ideal, the county should replace two bridges with the help of federal aid every year. For the past decade, the average has been one bridge every two years.

"It's a pretty big deal for us to not get federal aid," Hens said.

As for culverts -- which Hens defined as anything with a span of five to 20 feet -- there are 278 in the county. 

Over the past two years, nine of the 30 most in need of replacement have been replaced.

A contract has been awarded to two concrete companies for castings for culvert pipes, so there are 10 under construction now.

For roads, Hens said aid will assist in the reconstruction of Pratt Road and Searles Road next summer.

County Highway and several local town highway departments are working together under a shared-services agreement this week on South Main Street Road, Town of Batavia.

Hens also said when roads are getting repaved, or overlayed, the surface is milled as well as the shoulder and the millings are then ground up so they can be recycled for bedding on the shoulder and expanded shoulders. The roads are being widened by four feet on the shoulders.

"We're winding up with 30-foot roads, which is safer for drivers, is safer for kids on bikes, and people walking. It's a pretty big improvement. It's going to take a long time to get through all the roads, but it will be a big benefit to the county when we're all done."

The project started three years ago.

As for parks, Shannon Morley has been doing a great job as the environmental educator at the interpretative center on the County Park & Forest in East Bethany, Hens said.

Reservations have held steady for use of pavilions at the parks, though crews had quite a bit of work after the March windstorm repairing damaged pavilions, as well as cleaning up trails in the County Park.

With funding being cut off for the Americorps program, the county won't benefit from those helpers at the County Park this year, Hens said, but efforts are underway to work with another program, the state's Student Conservation Program. That's more expensive but the folks with ACORN have raised money to help cover the cost.

It may also be possible to get volunteers from SUNY Brockport.

Hens said the first year of the new ice rink at DeWitt Recreation Area went well, but he thinks for the kids to get the most out of it, it needs to stay open later. When kids get out of school at three or four, and it gets dark at 5:30 p.m., there isn't much time for them to skate. Hens said he is looking into providing some lighting so they can skate longer into the evening.

The biggest news out at the County Airport is a plan to resurface the runway in 2019.

The current runway is 40 years old, Hens said.

The airport continues to be a moneymaker for the county, even with less travel, meaning lower full sales, because of weather this past year.

Typically, the airport has generated $100,000 to $200,000 a year in surplus revenue, but Hens is projecting $65,000 to $75,000 this year.

In the past few years, there have been several improvements to the airport, including a new terminal and new hangars. Since Hens has been highway superintendent, there has been a $27 million investment, most of it federal funds, in the airport.

The investment is paying off, Hens said.

" Our hangars are full and we are way ahead of forecast for what the FAA thinks we should have in terms of based aircraft," Hens said. "In fact, we've got another 8-bay T-hangar waiting in the wings to go up and then another one beyond that, so hoping we can base more aircraft here."

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