August 25, 2012

Shoulder color

Update: Angelika reports that they've started painting at least some of it already. Never mind.

Ellis Hollow Road got worse and worse for years because residents weren't thrilled about the County Highway Department's plans to widen it in a major rebuild. I'd heard echoes of the stories even when I first got involved in Dryden politics almost a decade ago, and plans seemed to come and go.

It sounded like that all wrapped up a few years ago with a compromise: the road would be widened, but the shoulders would be paved with a different color of asphalt. That would make the road surface visually smaller to drivers, who usually respond to such things by driving more cautiously. It would also give other users of the shoulder, notably bicyclists and pedestrians, a space that looked more their own.

The paving took eternity, pausing over a winter, but when it was done the newly widened road had black shoulders. No different asphalt, no special paint.

Where the shoulder widens
Where the shoulder widens (or narrows, depending which way you're going).

Definitely still a black shoulder.
Definitely still a black shoulder.

I've heard that the highway department is eventually going to paint the shoulder, a treatment that likely won't last nearly as long but would at least kind of sort of fulfill the commitment they made years ago. I've also heard an argument that it's a waste of money.

I'd very strongly encourage the highway department to at least paint the shoulder as a sign that they remember a promise made to residents who weren't otherwise happy with their work. Tompkins County residents seem to be questioning the value of ever faster ever wider roads more regularly, and battles with communities over county roads that pass through them seem to be a more and more common fact of life.

If Tompkins County wants its highway department to have any credibility whatsoever in those future conversations, that highway department needs to demonstrate that it will actually live up to the promises it makes.

Posted by simon at August 25, 2012 5:42 PM in ,
Note on photos