Driving a disaster

A treacherous five-mile stretch of what New York state has labeled as a “rough road” from just outside Fredonia to Cassadaga on Route 60 will be getting some needed attention in the spring.

New York State Department of Transportation official Susan Surdej announced the resurfacing project will begin once the winter has subsided. “It has been extremely difficult due to the weather,” she said. “Our snow and ice crew are actively working to fix the potholes temporarily and are doing the best they can.”

Surdej, public information officer for the agency, noted the department is working on a more permanent solution. “We can’t do asphalt until April; we are using cold patches to fix the holes until the weather gets warmer,” she said. “The temperatures this winter are causing havoc on roads and we are aware Route 60 is getting the worst of it.”

That’s good news for daily commuters and Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan.

“I even had the director of the regional office come down and drive it (Route 60),” Horrigan said. “Once the weather breaks they will take a look at it; right now they are working on a temporary solution.”

Horrigan pointed out the bad weather makes this problem all the more dangerous and it should be acted on sooner rather than later. “I am very confident the DOT will fix the problem,” he said. “In this brutal weather, the DOT has done everything they can to make people aware of the danger and have put up signs and told people to use caution when traveling on Route 60.”

New York State Senator Catharine Young said she has been in close contact with the DOT to look at a long-term solution to the pothole problem.

“The pothole issue has been terrible all over Western New York this year,” she said. “The freezing problem we have had this winter has been eating up the roads.

“The great news is we have been pushing the DOT to fix Route 60 by the spring of this year and not have to wait until 2016,” she said. “The DOT has been out as much as possible this year patching up the road and the cold hasn’t been helping.”

Young called this a significant safety issue for travelers and it is her number one concern. “I am very thrilled this will be fixed in spring,” she said. “This is important for good travel and also for the economy,” she said. “The DOT gives people work and also uses local businesses for materials.”

Municipal officials weigh in

Area municipal and county officials are just as enthusiastic about the repair plans.

“It is very dangerous and I get complaints from residents all the time,” Cassadaga Mayor LeeAnn Lazarony said. “People complain constantly about having to repair their cars because of the pothole damage and about state police pulling them over for driving on the shoulder to avoid the potholes.”

Lazarony, who noted a WDOE petition with 250 names on it, said taxpayers are paying for road maintenance to be done and it feels like nothing is happening. “It’s not very pleasant to travel on Route 60,” she said. “It is a notoriously bad road for accidents anyway, but the potholes make it more dangerous; especially for people who don’t know the road.”

County Legislator Bob Scudder’s wife Laurie Scudder uses the road daily and told her husband it is like being in a video game every time she drives down Route 60.

“My wife had a good phrase for the problem,” he said. “She told me it is like being in a video game – you have to go off in the shoulder to dodge the potholes – it is like game over every time you hit a pothole.”

Scudder added this pothole issue has become a major problem. “This has become a big safety issue,” he said. “If you hit a pothole, you might end up in the other person’s lane.”

Impact on business

Town of Pomfret Supervisor Donald Steger said Route 60 is the main road of transportation. “It is such a busy road for people living, working and driving in this area, “he said. “The materials they use are not standing up to the bad winters.”

Steger is concerned people are being affected daily. “They don’t want to take Route 60 and it is deterring people from going north and south in the county,” he said. “Business are being affected by this.”

Steger added it is not just a weather issue. “I drive on Route 5 and Route 20; they have the same weather as Route 60,” he said. “They are not as bad of roads, so it is not just a weather problem.”

Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe said he avoids Route 60 whenever possible and he advises others to do the same until the problem is fixed.

“I know not everyone can avoid the road,” he said. “It is very dangerous; especially since the trucks are going through every day causing wear and tear on the road.”

Keefe believes if Route 86 connected with Route 90 the problem would go down. “If they built another expressway system it would be the best solution,” he said. “Trucks are the main problem; this way only local traffic could drive on Route 60.”

Cassadaga Kwik Fill Owner Mark Denison said the potholes haven’t impacted his business. Denison added every time he drives the road it is a big problem. “People don’t have a choice but to take the road,” he said. “It has deteriorated to a point where is not good for the highway, but there are not a lot of alternatives.”

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