WILLSBORO - A section of Route 22 between Willsboro and Northway Exit 33 is being slated for repairs after years of public outcry, but the work may not come as soon as some might hope.
Willsboro resident David Ashline is one of many people in the town who are urgently calling for repairs to the eight-mile stretch, which is the most utilized travel route for many going to and from the lakeside village.
Beginning about a month ago, Ashline circulated a petition in Willsboro that urged representatives at the state level to call for repairs on the road as early as this year. Within four days he had 750 signatures.
Ashline said one woman from Reber offered to help with the effort by collecting signatures from some of her neighbors.
"Two days later she knocked on my door and had 31 signatures," he said.
Having collected 1,200 signatures to date, Ashline sent the petition to state Sen. Elizabeth Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, as well as two officials from the state Department of Transportation.
"Everybody in Willsboro has to go to Plattsburgh," said Ashline, "and it's a main line going off the ferry (in Essex)."
Originally built in 1929 as a 10-foot-wide concrete road, the state highway had to be paved over and expanded to a width of 12 feet just a few years later. Now with that concrete base crumbling from years of frost heaving, Ashline now claims it to be in worse condition than any other road in the area.
Today deep crevices and potholes line much of the state highway, which accommodates roughly 1,300 vehicles each day.
"It's so crucial," said Willsboro Supervisor Lori Lincoln-Spooner, adding that it was the first project she added to the county's list of projects for which to solicit federal stimulus funds.
But the DOT determined that the project could not yet be deemed shovel-ready, explained Spooner, even though there's been a push to repair the road for about 10 years.
One of the likely reasons the road has been ignored, Spooner said, is because it would serve a relatively small population for the amount of money it would require, especially compared to other areas in DOT Region 1, which encompasses the Capital Region of New York State.
"I believe if Essex County could get out of Region 1, we'd be a lot better off and have a fair playing field," she said. Clinton and Franklin Counties both belong to Region 7.
Still officials from the DOT have been very responsive, Spooner said, and have made plans to start taking bids for the project in February 2010.
"They understand the need and they've been working on this for several years," she said.