What’s more annoying than driving around Westchester and feeling that shock of hitting a massive pothole that you’re sure wasn’t even there yesterday? Like snow, freezing temperatures and school closings, potholes are a regular fixture in the River Towns every winter.
Of course they are an annoyance, but more than that they can do serious harm to your car – the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates potholes cause U.S. motorists about $3 billion per year – and maybe even yourself. Several weeks ago in neighboring Pennsylvania, a woman suffered a cracked vertebrae after hitting a pothole, losing control of her car and hitting a wall.
In Westchester, our roads – and our potholes – are managed by different entities. There are state roads, county roads, and town roads. Just last month, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner testified at the Westchester State Assembly delegation budget hearing about the deplorable condition of New York State-owned roads in our area. He urged the State Legislature to mandate that the New York State Department of Transportation conduct an audit of all New York State roads under their jurisdiction and present the legislature with an annual road report of the conditions of each of the roads.
Several members of the Assembly echoed Feiner’s comments. Assemblyman Tom Abinanti suggested that New York State pay local governments to repave and maintain roads that the state owns. Assemblywoman Sandy Galef asked if the time has come to ask voters to approve a road repaving bond act. And right here in our area, engineers have found that some of the roads that New York State owns are beyond repair: milling and repaving won’t do the trick. The roads have to be rebuilt.
But there is a bright spot in the local pothole jungle, and that is the roads maintained by our own towns and villages. Thanks to cooperation among villages and a machine affectionately known as “the Pothole Killer,” the villages of Irvington, Tarrytown, and Sleepy Hollow, along with Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, and Hastings, have a weapon against the dreaded pothole.
The Village Officials Committee
It all started about sixteen years ago when the mayors and village administrators of all the Greenburgh villages banded together to form the Village Officials Committee (VOC). The original purpose of the VOC was to discuss areas of mutual interest but quickly became a mechanism to save costs and pool resources. Over the years, the collaboration among the villages has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars – from $200,000 on road repairs one summer to $16,000 on an elevator-servicing contract. The VOC has even received awards for their efforts to save taxpayer money.
Perhaps the most visible collaboration of the VOC started about six years ago when Elmsford Village Administrator Michael Mills discovered the PK2000 – AKA the Pothole Killer. The PK2000 uses a patented process to blow out loose debris from the hole, apply an asphalt emulsion bonding agent, fill the hole via air conveyance and dry it so the area can be immediately used. The real benefit – the Pothole Killer permanently repairs potholes in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost our villages previously spent to send crews out to temporarily patch holes in the winter only to have to re-patch them in the spring.
According to Mills, the Pothole killer is rented by each village for several days at a cost of $1300 per day including the operator and the materials. Compared to sending a local crew of 2-3 people to fill holes with temporary patch materials, the cost savings for each village are in the thousands.
So what does this all mean for tax payers? Over the past five years, the savings add up to over $400,000 for Greenburgh villages – including close to $200,000 in Irvington, Tarrytown, and Sleepy Hollow.
“Another benefit of the Pothole Killer machine is that once the holes are filled, they stay filled. This is not always the case with cold patch resulting in our DPW having to fill the same hole multiple times,” noted Sleepy Hollow Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio. “What Sleepy Hollow residents might not know is that we work very well with our neighboring communities in an effort to save tax dollars. The Village Officials Committee and the Pothole Killer machine is an example of this”
So the next time you see a pothole on one of our local roads, contact your village department of public works and they’ll make sure the Pothole Killer has your hole in their sights.