A sure sign of summer: the smell of asphalt.
With schools closed and families out of town on vacations, fewer cars are on the road. Rockland County, NY, crews are taking advantage of the lull to repair the havoc winter wreaked on roadways, to the relief of commuters who’ve endured weeks of bumpy rides.
The Rockland County Highway Department reported it is midway through its annual road repair initiative. Work should be wrapped up by the second week of August.
All in all, the $2.8 million program will improve 16.58 miles of county routes this year, according to County Spokesman John Lyon.
Of that number, about $500,000 is set aside for miscellaneous repairs, such as cracked sealant, broken catch basins, missing or damaged street signs and pothole patches, Lyon said.
Roads are selected based on the last time they were resurfaced, average annual daily traffic, and complaints and observations from Highway Department crews. The repair jobs are ranked by priority and put on the schedule.
So far, 16 streets in Rockland County have been resurfaced, but there are many more miles to go.
Local auto body shops report an overall decline in pothole-flattened tires, but encounters with the craters still bring in customers. Between late winter and early spring, smaller shops can see almost a half dozen drivers a day who have to pay the price for striking a pothole.
At Rockland Car Care in Nanuet, longtime clerk Catherine Lucient said they’re “still getting a lot of drivers from the Thruway and Parkway.”
"We're one of the first places when people pull off," she said. "The highways are always bad."
Angelo Letizia, owner of South Nyack Automotive, also still gets highway travelers with flats.
Located on Cedar Hill Avenue, less than a fifth of a mile from the first exit in Rockland after the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge, Letizia gets between four and six customers a week with pothole damage. Back in March, it was around 10 a week, he said.