Road repairs set for summer

A long winter with cold temperatures has left parking lots and roads in a state of disarray with many potholes.

A plan to fix parking lots over the next few years including this summer was presented to Faculty Assembly Monday by Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations Mary DePentu. The maintenance department will be repairing potholes in lots E-15 and C-15 near King Hall and Lot 5 behind Laker Hall.

They are planning to fix fixing the lot behind Romney Field House and parking lots on West Campus in the summer of 2012.

"We generally wait for the summer to patch [the potholes]," DePentu said. "Sometimes we’ll order a specific amount of asphalt to fill the area and if it’s bad enough we’ll cut out the entire section and then fill it."

For a quick fix, the maintenance staff will use what DePentu calls a "cold patch," which is a fix done during the winter that does not use heat.

Ronald Randall, head of Grounds and Maintenance, said he does not like the idea of cold patching because it lacks longevity.

"It’s really hard to spend $100 a ton when we buy eight tons at a time," Randall said. "So it’s hard for me to put that [asphalt] into holes when I know the rain is going to wash it out."

The maintenance department has a limited budget to cover many costs. When DePentu began working with the grounds department in 1999, the preventative maintenance budget was $10,000. Now the department has about $100,000 to cover many of the costs. That $100,000 goes toward snow removal, parking lots, maintenance equipment, ice control, cold and hot patching of potholes, crosswalk and parking lot stripping and signage for the roadways, parking lots and crosswalks.

With the rising price of fuel, the price of asphalt is also climbing.

"The whole process is expensive," DePentu said. "Because our asphalt is a petroleum-based product."

Randall is very innovative and always looks for the best solution possible, DePentu said.

"The best solution is tearing up and rebuilding the road," Randall said. "That’s not always financially possible."

The potholes are particularly bad this year because of the harsh winter and cold spring, Randall said.

"Inherently, what creates [potholes] is the natural freeze and frost cycle. When the frost in the ground is freezing and thawing. It’s the worst we’ve seen in years, all over New York state," Randall said.

Maintenance cannot start repairs without asphalt, which is not available until spring. Randall said he hopes to place an order for asphalt in the next week or two.

Last year, the maintenance department rented The Pothole Killer, a machine used to repair potholes quickly and easily.

"It was almost something out of a sci-fi movie," DePentu said.

The machine blows the water out of the pothole, and fills it with tack asphalt. The tack asphalt is then mixed with stone, leaving the staff to roll the mixture with a roller.

DePentu said, students can call the maintenance office with any concerns.

"Many eyes are a wonderful thing," DePentu said. "We have 650 acres of campus to maintain. It’s difficult for only 17 staff members to keep track of."