Photo by Elizabeth Izzo
Colvin Chapman and Sam Shelmidine participated in Cornell University’s Local Roads Program internship this summer. The six-week program saw the Ticonderoga Central graduates taking inventory of local roads in Ticonderoga, a measure that Cornell officials say will aid in long-term planning.
TICONDEROGA — Need an update on road conditions in Ticonderoga?
Just ask Sam Shelmidine and Colvin Chapman, a pair of Ticonderoga Central grads who spent the summer studying local roads as part of the Cornell Local Roads Program Summer Internship Program.
Using software provided by the university, the pair created an inventory of town-controlled roads and graded their conditions on a five-point scale.
Mapping out these conditions allows municipalities to prioritize and aid in planning, said Geoffrey Scott, a technical assistance engineer who helps towns implement the project.
Scott urged members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee to consider the internship for their communities.
Ticonderoga Supervisor Joe Giordano said the program was successful in his town because it helped make budgeting easier; it gave the kids valuable job experience (both Shelmidine and Colvin will pursue engineering), and lets residents know the town is on top of road issues.
Allowing roads, which take a beating in the winter, to deteriorate ends up costing more in the long-run, the lawmaker said.
“The idea is to keep good roads good, and fix the poor ones as you go along.”
All towns can apply for the internship program, which contains 18 slots. The application fee is $60.
Cornell will provide the training and software. Towns will be responsible for all additional costs, including a vehicle and an hourly wage.
Total costs in Ticonderoga for the six-week program were $6,500.
Following a presentation, county lawmakers appeared receptive, but voiced initial concerns over costs
“I think it’s something we might be interested in if we can find the money,” said James Monty (R-Lewis) after the meeting.
Moriah has 50 miles of town roads and bridges and 18 miles of sidewalks.
“That could be a great tool to have for capital planning,” said Tom Scozzafava (R-Moriah). “That’s something that we need here.”
Michael “Ike” Tyler (R-Westport) said his town would be unlikely to pursue the project because they have already mapped out a long-term plan for road maintenance.
“I’m looking at it, researching it, but I’m not sure if it’s a good thing for Westport,” Tyler said after the meeting.
Essex County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) asked if the program had examined taking a look at alternatives to road salt.
“There’s increasing science that says road salt is destroying our watershed,” said Preston, who also cited the substance as a factor in bridge erosion. “It’s increasingly becoming more of a hot topic.”
The university’s Water Resource Department is continuing to examine the issue, said Scott.
For more info on the Cornell Local Roads Program, visit clrp.cornell.edu/trainingevents/interns.html. To view the Ticonderoga report, visit townofticonderoga.org.