Think of highway departments as golfers.
When a golfer tears up some turf, courtesy calls for him to fix his divots.
Highway crews don’t exactly come through with golf clubs — their tool is a snow plow. And in the winter, no matter how careful they are, those plows can catch the edges of lawns, scraping up divots of their own.
Now, crews are out fixing them.
“It’s springtime. You start doing all your springtime repairs and wing cuts are a big part of that,” Glenville Highway Superintendent Tom Coppola said recently.
A wing cut, he explained, is when a blade gets off the road, plowing the lawn as well. Generally that is from the wing plow, the smaller one on the right side that clears the edge of the road.
They not only create aesthetic problems but practical problems as well, with drainage and runoff, Coppola said. Left unfixed, the cuts can affect how the properties drain and loose dirt can end up in catch basins, where it would have to be cleaned out.
So area highway departments have been out with rakes, topsoil and grass seed.
Niskayuna officials got an update last week on their efforts. Deputy Highway Superintendent Ray Smith reported what he saw as a lighter-than-normal year for such fixes.
Still, they’re out fixing the scraped lawns.
“They go road by road,” Smith told members of the town’s transportation and building committee. “They have dirt with them in one truck, they have rakes, shovels and brooms on another.”
They also have grass seed. If there’s a larger spot, they’ll mark that down and check it later. Most of the time, he said, the grass comes up.
Residents will call if they have damage that needs to be fixed; crews also look for it when they’re out.
Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry said he believed the winter was mild enough to keep the damage to a minimum.
“I think the complaints were louder,” Landry said, “but I don’t think there were more because there weren’t as many opportunities to rip up lawns this year.”
Town of Ballston Highway Superintendent Joe Whalen called the fixes a common courtesy, something his department isn’t required to do, but does.
Whalen said problems arise when the ground isn’t frozen. When the plows hit the ground, the lawns tear right up.
Whalen last week said he has his crews out following up on complaints and looking for spots that weren’t called in.
“They’re going through each route to see what’s out there and then fixing it,” he said.