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Recommendations for the Maintenance of Old Albany Post Road
Compiled by Tim Ziegler, Field Operations Specialist, Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies (Center)
I was invited to Putnam County, New York at the request of the Old Road Society of Philipstown, who covered the cost of my travel and consultation fee. However, it should be understood that regardless of the financial sponsor of my trip, my evaluation and recommendations are unbiased and are representative of the same technical advice that would be given to municipal road maintenance professionals and conservation district staff involved in Pennsylvania’s Dirt and Gravel Road Maintenance Program.
On the morning of Tuesday, October 7, 2008 a group of twenty or more concerned citizens met at the southern end of Old Albany Post Road. Among those present were myself, members of the Old Road Society of Philipstown, municipal officials from the Town of Philipstown, a representative of FEMA, and residents from the immediate area. The primary issue concerning the group involved conflicting opinions on whether or not to pave a 450’ section of road up-slope of the stream crossing near the intersection with Sprout Brook Road.
The Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance Practices recommended here are proven maintenance techniques that both reduce sediment pollution and reduce the cost and frequency of road maintenance on unpaved roads. These practices have been used successfully on over 18,000 project sites throughout the seven different geologic regions of Pennsylvania, including counties along Pennsylvania’s northern tier that are similar geologically and topographically to Putnam County, New York. In addition, these practices are not unique to PA, and many of these techniques are routinely used by transportation agencies across the country. For further information regarding Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance Practices, Pennsylvania’s Dirt and Gravel Road Maintenance Program, or the Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies go to www.dirtandgravelroads.org or call toll free at 866-668-6683.
The five main principles of ESMPs on unpaved roads are:
The following pages outline a list of recommendations for the maintenance of Old Albany Post Road in the Town of Philipstown, New York using Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance Practices (ESMPs), based on site evaluations made on October 7, 2008. Site knowledge and input was gathered from all of those present and information was gathered from adjacent landowners when possible.
Section Number 1 – The unpaved portion of Old Albany Post Road up-slope of the intersection with Sprout Brook Road through to the intersection with Upland Drive.
Surface stabilization and urban style stormwater management is recommended for this section of the road for the following reasons:
Surface stabilization with urban style storm sewers (interconnected catch basins) is the logical option for the 450’ section of unpaved road up-slope of the Sprout Brook Road intersection. While the most common form of road surface stabilization is asphalt pavement, which is the option currently favored by the town, other stabilization methods can be used to harden the wearing course of an unpaved road in order to resist erosion.
The Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies does not advocate specific commercial products, nor does the Center do extensive durability testing on commercial products, but instead identifies classifications of products and materials as “non-polluting”, or environmentally safe, for use in unpaved road maintenance.
A representative of Soilworks, LLC has contacted Penn State and the Old Road Society regarding an environmentally safe copolymer product (Soiltac) designed to stabilize and solidify the existing aggregate surface. Used correctly, polymer stabilizers will create a hard/erosion resistant driving surface that maintains crown on unpaved roads, and may provide an economical option to paving. Representatives of Soilworks, LLC incorporated their product with surface material samples taken from Old Albany Post Road in laboratory tests and feel strongly that this product will create a durable driving surface that will maintain its shape and elevation. According to company representatives a mixture of their copolymer and the surface aggregate will form a hard material that provides traction and will form hard ditches and aprons around catch basins. Recently Penn State began reviewing product data to potentially include the Soiltac product on its list of Approved Products for the PA Dirt and Gravel Road Maintenance Program. Depending on the economics, especially during times of skyrocketing oil prices, the use of this, or other alternative stabilization practices, may be a way the Town of Philipstown can address the various concerns of local residents, state regulatory agencies, and town budget managers.
In this section, the initial ~250’ stretch up-slope of the bridge at Sprout Brook Road lays at an elevation that has seen previous flooding and may very well flood again if driveway culverts on the adjacent stream are not correctly sized and installed to handle significant future flood events, especially with continued residential development upstream.
While flood damage to hard surface roads is generally more severe when the flow runs across the road and less severe when the flow runs with the road (as is the case on this road), I would still recommend that the driveway culverts be addressed as part of a comprehensive upgrade/repair plan. Left unaddressed, it is likely that these pipes will again be an issue, and may create a situation that has the potential to damage any upgrades made to the road.
Section Number 2 – The portion of Old Albany Post Road from Upland Drive through to Indian Trail Road.
While I recommend surface stabilization, on the .1 mile length of road in Section Number 1, it is not necessary to harden the surface of the remaining unpaved portion of Old Albany Post Road with pavement or alternative methods in order to reduce sediment pollution and maintenance costs. Instead, I recommend that the Town of Philipstown adopt Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance Practices (ESMPs) when maintaining this portion of road as a means of achieving these goals. Specifically, I recommend the following practices:
In conclusion, with changing fiscal, political, and environmental challenges faced by municipalities trying to provide effective road maintenance, as well as growing pressure and demands from residents and motorists, all potential road maintenance schemes should be kept open as available options for municipal road maintenance crews. Since no two roads have identical situations, maintenance programs should differ from road to road, and the factors determining the choice of maintenance program should differ also.
While the residents along Old Albany Post Road have different ideas on what maintenance scheme should be employed by the town, and the town has its own plans, I encourage the different interest groups to work together to find solutions that are acceptable to all those involved. Neither safety nor history is my area of expertise.
However, just as financial and environmental factors need to be considered when developing a road maintenance program, so too should these other factors important to the community. Since correctly implemented Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance Practices will reduce road maintenance costs and environmental concerns related to unpaved roads while allowing the road to remain unpaved, I would suggest that the Town of Philipstown implement these practices when maintaining the dirt and gravel portion of Old Albany Post Road.
The Center for Dirt and Gravel Road Studies is available to do more detailed maintenance recommendations if the Town of Philipstown is interested in getting a more detailed project plan using ESMPs. Since we are a public entity, the fee for this service is very reasonable. Also, the Center puts on approximately ten two-day Environmentally Sensitive Maintenance Training courses a year for road maintenance professionals at various locations throughout PA. The courses are open to road maintenance personnel from states bordering PA. For more information contact Kathy Moir at 1-866-668-6683, or email Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.