Road work season is here; be extra-careful

It has been said that in upstate New York there are only two seasons — winter and road construction. Well, winter is over, so it must be road construction season.

That replaces snowy and icy roads with work zones, construction equipment, lane closures, flagmen and delays for drivers.

First, remember that in work zones, speed limits are normally reduced and, if caught speeding, fines are doubled. Safety for the workers is paramount, and too many drivers don’t respect the reduced speeds and flagmen associated with these projects. They should. Road work is a dangerous job, mainly due to distracted drivers or speed.

Other potential hazards facing drivers include low or soft shoulders, oils from the new asphalt contributing to possible slipperier road surfaces for several days, and possibly no pavement striping until the municipality that owns the highway applies the proper centerline and fog line striping.

Relative to the asphalt oils causing slipperier roads, I posed this possibility to the experts at Cornell Local Roads Program in Ithaca. Their response to slipperier roads after a paving job was that the first few days could be slightly slipperier but not significantly so.

Although I have not seen factual information that shows speeds increase after a new paving project, it stands to reason that this might be true, as the newly paved road is much smoother than before the reconstruction. So drivers, please resist the temptation to speed because the cracks, potholes and bumps have been replaced by a nice, smooth road, more conducive to faster speeds.

Roads in upstate New York are costly to maintain, much more so than roads in the southern part of the U.S., where frost does not penetrate roadways like in our area and there are not as many freeze-thaw cycles that contribute to pavement breakup and potholes. So put up with a slight inconvenience this summer when being slowed down or held up for a few minutes by paving crews. You’ll appreciate the better road the next time through.


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