Orange works to fix potholes in ‘particularly bad year’

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

ORANGE — Fluctuating temperatures, snow and draining water are a perfect storm for bad road conditions. In Orange, they have been occurring frequently this winter, leaving scabs and potholes across the streets.

“It’s been crazy,” said Colin Killay, Highway, Parks and Cemeteries Departments superintendent.

Killay and his six-person crew have been fixing potholes as often as possible, including a three-day stretch last week, but two snowstorms in the past week have made the task difficult.

“Everything short of having a tornado like Conway, it’s a been crazy winter,” Killay said.

From Tuesday, Feb. 27 to Thursday, March 1, it was the Highway Department’s main priority to fix potholes. According to Killay, they spent approximately $2,500 on materials and manpower to fill “hundreds” of potholes and scabs — large, shallow depressions in the road.

As a result, West River Street, East River Street and South Main Street are mostly patched, Killay said, but it will take more time to finish other main roads.

“You get the main roads done first, then the side streets,” Killay said.

Some of the next main projects will be areas of north Orange and North Main Street.

Fixing a stretch along Route 2A — from Shelter Street to the Erving border — will also be a priority.

But that will require clear conditions and thousands of pounds of asphalt hauled from Delta Sand and Gravel, Inc. in Sunderland at roughly $80 per ton. It will also require a police detail due to the amount of traffic on the road.

A day of work filling potholes and scabs, accounting for labor, materials, travel time and fuel, typically costs around $600 without a police detail, Killay said.

“People think you have all the time in the world,” Killay said, noting that they he has heard some complaints about road conditions.

“I started Jan. 2 here and a cold stretch, snowstorm, then drifting all weekend followed by ice,” he added.

A particular problem has been the rapidly fluctuating temperatures this year. Fast and frequent expansion from warmth and contraction from cold will cause the asphalt to crack.

Take the period from Wednesday, Feb. 21 to Saturday, Feb. 24, for example: Temperatures were in the mid 70s Wednesday, followed by a drop into the low 30s by Friday — with snow and freezing rain in between — before reaching almost 50 degrees for a partly-cloudy Saturday.

“Also, water gets underneath the road and just starts heating,” Killay said.

The roads are so bad Killay said the state gives communities pothole grants like it did in 2015.

For now, he is pleased with his team’s progress, stating the crew has patched too many holes to even count at this point, and that West and East River streets and South Main Street are important thoroughfares for Orange.

While more expensive, the Highway Department has been primarily using hot patch asphalt concrete rather than cold patching. The two different asphalt formulations are commonly used to fix roads, Killay said, but a hot patch is far more durable than a cold patch.

For streets with less traffic, cold patch can be a good fix — if albeit temporary — but hot patching is more suitable for Orange’s main roads due to the beating they take every winter, Killay said.

“Some of these roads aren’t in the greatest shape anyway,” Killay said.

David McLellan can be reached
at dmclellan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.