A gift from the federal government is going straight to Schenectady’s roads.
The government decided not to cut Schenectady’s Community Development Block Grant by 5 percent, as city officials had been warned. Instead, Schenectady got a raise.
The city received $277,713 more in CDBG than it received last year.
“It’s just the federal formula. And it fell in our favor,” said Development Director Richard Purga.
The City Council must now decide what to do with the windfall. Purga recommended that it go to roadwork, and council members appear ready to approve that plan.
It would allow the city to pave about 1.5 miles. The council had already set aside CDBG funds to pave 2 miles of roadway, bringing the total to 3.5 miles.
“You get a major impact with that money,” Purga said. “It totally improves the streetscape.”
Council Carl Erikson, who had tried to convince his colleagues to put more CDBG money into roadwork early this year, wholeheartedly favored of the proposal.
In 2011 and 2012, the city managed to pave a total of 20 miles of the most deteriorated main roads. Adding another 3.5 miles of paving will leave the city with 11.5 miles of main roads listed in “poor” condition.
That’s in addition to roads that have deteriorated further since the city analyzed its roads in 2010 and 2011.
Then-Engineer Paul Cassillo prioritized the city’s roads by condition and usage. He said many of the city’s side streets were in “very bad” condition, but he recommended the most heavily travelled roads be paved first.
He said the city should have replaced many roads long ago. But tight budgets kept the road paving fund small, and city officials decided to replace sidewalks with every repaved road. That sharply increased the cost of each mile of paving.
To get the roads done, the City Council authorized a temporary moratorium on rebuilding most sidewalks.