Buffalo, NY - Questions are being raised by some county lawmakers and viewers about how tax payer dollars are being spent on road construction in Erie County.
Erie County's new Department of Public Works chief has some explanations.
It's a constant complaint when it comes to the Erie County budget which pits County Executive Poloncarz against suburban district legislators.
Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo says "The current administration ignores rural roads in favor of other priorities."
And newly installed County DPW Commissioner William Geary replies "When you have a massive infrastructure of 1,200 center line miles of road and you only have a capital program between 25 and 30 million dollars which County Executive Poloncarz has bolstered up in the last term and continues in partnering with the legislature as well...but we're still well under what we need."
This past weekend on Channel 2, Lorigo who is the county legislature majority chairman, questioned why potholes re-appeared in recently paved stretches of Route 240 in southern Erie County. The explanation from Geary was a bad batch of asphalt with too much oil and a pledge it will be fixed at no cost to taxpayers.
Now more viewer comments to us that road patching crews are often seen working on Savage Road in Sardinia but this road is also still poor in their opinion. Lorigo notes "In the past the work has all been fine..it's all been adequate..this year for some reason I'm getting more complaints about the quality of the work that was done than I have in the past...and I wanna know why."
Geary responds that "This is an election year for all legislators so they're giving a little detail and probably keeping an eye on any of the processes or any of the projects we are doing."
Geary says the Savage Road crew work is oil and chip to essentially preserve the road surface for another three to five years and then slate it for re-paving based on the formula of traffic count, road rating and available funds. The county is spending $25,000 dollars per road mile for the oil and chip process versus $300,000 to $500,000 dollars per mile for actual road repaving..He says they are trying to cover as much roadway as possible with some restoration and wanting to do much more but with limits. "This year for example 2017 season we had about 250 miles that were eligible to be paved for mill and fills and again at 250 miles at about a half million dollars a piece...our budget just wasn't able to support that."
County Legislator Lorigo says he wants to bring William Geary, who has only been the county's Department of Public Works Commissioner for about a month, before county lawmakers to discuss this construction season and some of the complaints. Some may perhaps expect more political mileage with the sparring over spending.