2010-09-08 / Editorial

Your tax dollars at work during summer

CHRIS COLLINS Erie County Executive
It is hard to believe that Labor Day has passed and another summer is behind us. The summer is a busy time for the County’s Department of Public Works, as engineers and crews take full advantage of our region’s short construction season.

My administration is committed to continuing to invest in our infrastructure, some of which has fallen into disrepair. Keeping all of Erie County’s roads and bridges in good condition is no easy job. Erie County has 1,180 centerline miles of roads, 280 bridges and 462 culverts. There are more miles of centerline roads in Erie County than there are in three entire states. As part of the 2010 road program, 151 miles of roadway received oil and chip treatment and another 24 miles was rehabilitated with asphalt overlay. This work was performed in 19 towns throughout Erie County. In addition to general maintenance, several significant reconstruction projects took place this summer.

Maple Road was reconstructed from Niagara Falls Boulevard to Flint Road in the Town of Amherst. This roadway is traveled by some 30,000 vehicles per day, and was totally reconstructed using $7 million of federal stimulus funds. As part of this project, nearly two miles of North Bailey was also reconstructed. Federal stimulus dollars also funded the total replacement of Cedar Street Bridge over Tonawanda Creek in the Town of Newstead. Replacing this 120-foot span was a joint effort with Niagara County and cost $3 million.

By committing County tax dollars to projects, Erie County’s DPW can leverage significant resources from the federal government and make our County investment stretch much further. In most cases, local road and bridge reconstruction projects are 80 percent funded with federal dollars. That was the case with several recently completed projects.

Traffic is once again traveling across Parkview Bridge after a $1.7 million reconstruction project. Located in Akron Falls Park in the Town of Newstead, the 159-foot long bridge reopened in August. For the same amount of money, crews totally replaced Freeman Bridge and the adjoining dam in Orchard Park. In Cheektowaga, 1.3 miles of Como Park Boulevard has been totally reconstructed at a cost of $3.1 million. And in Amherst, the total reconstruction of 2.2 miles of Wehrle Drive is in progress. This complicated project is currently 70 percent complete, and will be wrapped up by the end of the year for a total cost of nearly $17 million.

Erie County funded the recently completed $7 million upgrade to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Improvements include a new electronic marquee and improved façade, a new kitchen and exhibit hall floor, plus the installation of upgraded sound, lighting and wireless Internet systems. I am confident these renovations will help us attract conventions and events to Buffalo and Erie County.

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