If Southold Town wants to make progress in repairing its deteriorating roads, the highway department will need to spend about $2 million per year until 2020.
That determination comes from Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando’s in-depth presentation of problematic roadways, the cost to fix them and when work could be completed. Mr. Orlando detailed the plan to the Town Board at its Tuesday meeting as a blueprint for how to address the problem over the next few years.
The issue with Southold’s roadways began when a string of harsh winters — complete with blizzards and freezing cold snaps — buckled the asphalt. Constant cycles of freezing and unfreezing forced water into cracks in the roads that expanded when the water froze.
The result was devastating, Mr. Orlando has said. The North Fork experienced a relatively mild winter this year, but that only prevented the problem from getting worse.
In its proposed 2017 town budget, the Town Board set aside $2.4 million in appropriations for highway repairs — hundreds of thousands more than the current budget permits. That jump is one of the major reasons for a proposed tax rate increase of 7.57 percent.
According to Mr. Orlando’s plan, next year’s paving would total 21.33 miles, with more than half the work scheduled to be in Mattituck, including sections of Sound Avenue, Cox Neck Road and New Suffolk Avenue.
Next year’s $2.4 million budget remains roughly the same in 2018 through 2020 and prioritizes roads according to need. It also takes into account how much paving highway crews could theoretically finish in a year before winter strikes.
The proposal reveals another 13.75 miles planned for 2018 at a cost of $2.4 million. In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Orlando said roads set to be paved that year are wider than standard roads, driving up costs per mile. In 2019, 19.9 miles would be repaired for roughly $2.5 million, with major roadwork concluding in 2020 for $1.77 million.
Mr. Orlando told the board he was able to save money on the budgets by fixing flooding issues with asphalt instead of creating new storm drains.
“That was very successful on Peconic Bay Boulevard,” he said.
In the past, Supervisor Scott Russell has suggested taking out a bond to cover the expense of further roadwork, but the board didn’t reach a decision about how to fund potential roadwork plans at Tuesday’s meeting.
Mr. Orlando also noted that the plan was tentative and subject to change. Another harsh winter, he warned, could damage even more roads, creating new priorities for the town to address.
Photo caption: Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando speaks at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)