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August 6, 2014 - 11:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in highways.

Salt supplies are down after our long, cold winter, so prices are going up, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens told county legislators Tuesday.

American Rock Salt in Mt. Morris is increasing its prices by 8 percent, so the county will be spending $2.96 per ton in 2014-15.

"It's nothing we can't manage," Hens told the Public Service Committee.

One way the highway department is handling the increased expenditure on salt is cutting back on road work this summer.

Hens said the county went from a surplus of salt at the start of the 2013-14 winter (after two consecutive mild winters) to currently storing only about 1/5 the total amount of salt the county will likely need this winter.

That means the county will need to spend $25,000 to $30,000 before the start of winter just to get even.

That's after going over budget by about $25,000 in salt last winter, when cold weather carried into spring.

Hens has to shift spending priorities to keep up with the salt demand, he said.

A few years ago, Hens said he regularly budgeted $115,000 for salt, but last year, when the county had built surpluses, the budget was only about $50,000. In the coming year, he will budget again for at least $115,000.

Legislator Bob Bausch said he's heard from private contractors that they are being put on an allotment system by American Rock Salt for salt as the company makes salt deliveries to municipalities a priority. Hens said he's heard the same thing.

February 3, 2012 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in highways, infrastructure, bridges.

Pending federal legislation could have a dramatic impact on Genesee County's ability to repair and maintain its road and bridges, according to Highway Superintendent Tim Hens.

Both the House and Senate version strip most of the aid that has traditionally gone to local governments to help with infrastructure. 

The county is facing more than $15 million a year in expenses over the next five years to repair roads and bridges.

The bill would also realign regional highway planning committees and allow any municipality of more than 10,000 people to set up their own committees.

"There could potentially be hundreds of these planning organizations fighting for the same pot of money," Hens said. "Neither the House version nor the Senate version is very local-friendly."

Hens has drafted a letter to senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand along with Rep. Kathy Hochul asking them to consider the local impact of the legislation.

Hens wrote:

We are certainly in favor of consolidating programs and accelerating delivery measures that reduce the time and cost to bring projects to construction, thereby maximizing the available dollars to the actual construction. However, we are very concerned that funding available to the non-NHS system will fall short of what is critically needed. Although we concur that the NHS is vital to the nation’s economy, it is important that the entire transportation system be considered as one seamless system that needs to preserved and maintained in its entirety. Local governments saddled with mandates just do not have the financial ability to take up these obligations on their own.

Full text of his letter after the jump (click on the headline to read):

November 18, 2008 - 8:24am
posted by Philip Anselmo in wbta, roads, weather, highways.

"Numerous" vehicles ran off the road early this morning on a very slippery Route 20 that got so hazardous it had to be closed down for about a ten mile stretch between Alexander and Pavilion, according to WBTA's Dan Fischer. Many of the vehicles that slid off the highway were still being pulled back up onto the road not even an hour ago. Salt trucks were finally starting to make some progress in the seven o'clock hour. About two to three inches of slippery snow fell across the area overnight.

A deer hunter was shot and killed by a member of his own party in Cattaraugus County. Derrick Lockwood, 23, of the town of Humphrey died Sunday morning following the incident, authorities there said. A police investigation into the death is ongoing.

November 17, 2008 - 1:18pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in Buffalo News, roads, commute, highways.

Commuters heading west from Batavia may soon have to contend with yet another highway distraction. An article in the Buffalo News from last week informs us that electronic, television-style billboards will soon be gracing roadsides in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Hamburg and Tonawanda. They will replace the antiquated poster-style billboards in those areas with electronic ones that "beam a new picture every eight seconds." But there's more to these flashy billboards than just invasive marketing opportunities.

The new technology has drawn concern in some communities, while winning applause in others for beaming emergency information to drivers.

Digital signs can quickly replace ads with messages about traffic problems ahead. They can also relay AMBER Alerts about missing children, (Lamar general manager Rich) Dvorak said.

In Minneapolis, a digital billboard alerted drivers about a bridge collapse in 2007 and helped reroute traffic.

“We can react within minutes to get that [emergency] message up,” Dvorak said.

But concerns about distracted driving and neighborhood livability have also surfaced as the electronic signs proliferate, with 1,100 now in use nationwide.

What do you think? Will electronic billboards be worth the distraction?

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