After flooding of Dug Road last year due to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the road has been permanently repaired at no cost to tax payers.
The Town of New Paltz lacked funds to provide recovery from those events, but received a total of $42,000 from federal and state sources to repair its oldest road, which connects Springtown Road and Canaan Road.
Temporary repairs were made to make the road accessible, New Paltz Recycling Coordinator Laura Petit said.
“The New Paltz Highway Department has attempted several different times to stabilize Dug Road, but the soil would wash out from underneath the pavement and the guardrail kept slipping into the creek,” she said.
Highway Supervisor Chris Marx said while road service has been stable, the bank was continuing to be a problem. He said because of pre-existing issues with the road, the town was unable to receive funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for repair cost. The storms “magnified” those issues, he said.
Marx said thanks to Petit, the town received a grant from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and their division of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Petit said she was notified by New Paltz Environmental Conservation Board member Jim Littlefoot about the grant, which would pay for bank stabilization damage caused by the storms.
The town requested federal NRCS assistance to repair Dug Road under the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), a program established and funded by Congress that addresses watershed impairments. Through EWP, the NRCS may pay up to 75 percent of the construction costs of emergency measures, according to the EWP September 2011 New York Fact Sheet. EWP sponsors are responsible for providing 25 percent cost-share, obtaining the necessary permits, and performing operations and maintenance on the project in the future as needed.
Petit said the grant only required a letter of interest from the town, including a brief statement about the issues. The town’s letter of interest states the storms that devastated Ulster County last year, caused 100 feet of half of Dug Road’s surface and road bank next to a Class C waterway, to sink approximately two feet, and that if the situation had not been addressed in a timely fashion, the road’s condition would worsen.
“After NRCS accepted the letter, they sent out a representative who took photos and did a site inspection so NRCS engineers could prepare a plan of action to stabilize the road and protect the creek,” Petit said.
New York Sen. John Bonacic, who Town Supervisor Susan Zimet worked with to secure the town’s 25 percent share-cost for the project, said FEMA usually covers 75 percent of eligible disaster response and recovery costs.
“The remaining 25 percent is typically shared equally by the state and localities,” he said.
The way disaster recovery and repair works, Bonacic said, is that local officials identify emergency areas, assess needs and make a request for help to the state and federal government.
On Sept. 14, 2011, shortly after Hurricane Irene, Bonacic introduced Senate Bill 5888, requiring the state to pay not only their share of recovery cost (12 percent), but also the local share (12.5 percent) of expenses for eligible cost.
“In April of this year, the governor agreed with my proposal and announced that the state would make that extra aid available,” Bonacic said. “In Ulster County that meant an additional $3.75 million in aid. I was pleased to be the first to propose that the extra State aid be made available and that the governor ultimately adopted my plan to cover the typical ‘local share’ of disaster response.”
Marx said the estimated cost to repair Dug Road was $42,852, but ended up only costing $21,786.48. Petit said road work was started in September with a finish deadline of Nov. 5.
“They finished it about 10 days ago. Way ahead of schedule,” she said. “The most significant part of this project is that it was a cooperative departmental effort that cost the taxpayers nothing.”