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Lisbon expects more road work

March 11, 2014

Town of Lisbon— Public Works Director Joe Klemm expects there will be more road repair work to do later this year because of the harsh winter, but he is not sure how much additional work there might be, what it will cost or where the town would get any needed additional money.

The town has about 100 miles of road, most of which is asphalt and susceptible to wear and tear from winter storms, fluctuating temperatures and salting and plowing.

The Village of Sussex has about 50 miles of streets and roads that are both concrete and asphalt. Village Administrator Jeremy Smith anticipates village road crews will also have more work to do later in the year, but he doesn't not anticipate it will present any budget challenges.

Cities and villages can be more flexible with their budgets than town governments because they can transfer funds back and forth between line items in the event they need to find additional funds for a specific purpose, such as road repairs.

Town highway budgets, however, must be approved by town residents who attend annual budget meetings. A $1.2 million highway budget was approved by the town residents at the meeting in November.

About $250,000 was allocated for road sealing, pothole filling and other maintenance while about $350,000 was approved for major road repairs and reconstruction as part of a capital budget.

Interim Administrator Liz Kraus explained that the Town Board could transfer some money from the capital budget to the operating budget to pay for filling some of the potholes and road maintenance.

But in order to increase $1.2 million budget, the Town Board would have to gain the approval of the electors at the annual town meeting in April, according to Kraus.

Klemm said he will not know how much, if any, additional money may be needed until winter is over and he has a chance to assess the road damage.

He explained that there are about 65 miles of road that are either new nor in excellent condition. He said another approximately 20 miles of road is "marginal," which means the roads are older and need care.

Another 15 miles of road are in even worse condition and in enough disrepair that is likely not economical to invest large amounts of money trying to patch and repair the road.

Klemm said his first priority for repairs will be the marginal roads. He said it is important to maintain those roads so the conditions do not worsen and the roads become more expensive to either maintain or rebuild.

The next priority, he said, are the roads that are newer or in good condition. He said he wants to keep those roads from deteriorating into the "marginal" category.

The greatest damage to the roads is when snow and water seep into cracks in the road and then freeze and thaw as temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing. The more cracks in a road, the more extensive the winter damage, Klemm added.

Klemm added that in addition to road surfaces, road shoulders and ditches adjacent to roads also take a beating because of harsh winters.

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