Hoehmtown Happenings: Smoother Roads and Softer Costs Keep Clarkstown Moving

Back in April, I wrote a column that cited Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” to illustrate the path the Town took to preserve open space at the Bear Swamp Preserve and Nature Trail. This time around I’m looking to give you insight into all the ways that the Clarkstown Highway Department has dealt with maintaining Clarkstown’s Roads Very Much Taken.
The Town of Clarkstown maintains over 288 miles of roads. My administration, in conjunction with our current Highway Superintendent Bob Milone, has made a concerted effort to stay on top of ensuring that the pavement on our roads is safe and smooth for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. Since 2017, we’ve addressed 165 miles of roads, utilizing various processes that not only get the job done and are longer lasting, but are also done in a cost effective manner. We haven’t had to compromise quality or spend a ton of money to reach the highest standards. If choosing between quality and cost were a fork in the road, we’ve been able to take it.
Before talking about cost, it’s important to understand the methods used to resurface roads. Not all roads are the same and their relative width, use and underlying topography are all factors in determining what kind of process to use. For many years, there was only one standard method: milling and filling. “Milling” is the first step, by which the top 1.5 to 2 inches of existing pavement is removed and then “filled” with a fresh layer of hot asphalt. It’s road paving 101.It’s also a bit pricey, so the Town has employed other ways of not only resurfacing roads, but maintaining the integrity of roads for a longer period of time. In 2017, the Town started to employ EPMP, which stands for “Enhanced Pavement Maintenance Program,” which uses a wide variety of preventative and corrective types of applications and treatments to help rejuvenate, protect and maintain asphalt surfaces.
Processes under the EPMP umbrella include crack sealing/crack filling, micropaving, ultra-thin hot asphalt overlays and other methods or combinations of the above. So how much would it cost to pave all 288 miles of roads by utilizing just the mill and fill method if it were possible to do all roads in a given year? Nearly $60 million! Obviously, we don’t have enough employees to accomplish such a feat, even if we were looking to spend such an enormous amount of money in one year. Let’s go back to the number of roads we have paved since 2017, 165 miles. Utilizing EPMP and standard mill and fill, it has cost the Town $23,224,290. If we just used mill and fill, that number would be nearly $38 million. By taking on these new approaches to road maintenance, we have saved nearly $15 million dollars. That’s a great way to take a ride while not being taken for one.