Cattaraugus County DPW winds down 2021 road paving projects

A Cattaraugus County Public Works paving crew lays down blacktop on Plato Road near Route 219 in the town of Ellicottville on Friday.

LITTLE VALLEY — The Cattaraugus County Public Works Department was working Friday on one of its last large paving projects of the construction season — Plato Road in the towns of Ellicottville and East Otto.

The road program was pretty much back on track at the beginning of October after rain for nearly three weeks during July caused delays — often by contractors who couldn’t pave elsewhere in the rain.

Only one road on the 2021 paving program didn’t get done due to the weather delay, East Hill Road in the towns of Franklinville and Lyndon.

“That will be the first one out the door next year,” said Bill Fox, Public Works director of engineering.

Last month, a contractor did a recycling project on the roadway. It involves grinding existing pavement and adding stone, oils and a binder before rolling the new surface. After the road cures for three weeks or so, the road is blacktopped.

“We’re doing more of the recycle projects,” Fox said. “It’s a good treatment for many of our roads. It takes out a lot of the road imperfections and makes for a good base to pave on.”

West River Road in the towns of Olean and Allegany was another recycling project. It has since been blacktopped and striped. The complaint now isn’t the rough road, but that it’s so smooth it leads to speeding between Allegany and Olean.

“It’s very smooth,” Fox agreed, noting that one county legislator suggested the sheriff set up radar on the road to deter speeders.

Fox said the Public Works Department was able to do a little more paving than usual this year, thanks to extra funding put in the 2021 budget. By putting extra money for roads in the budget, DPW was able to begin planning earlier than if legislators had waited until March to come up with extra funding.

Fox said the county was able to do about 22 miles of large project paving this year — a little bit more than usual. The paving program totaled $7 million this year.

Another 35 miles of roads were either chip and seal projects or Nova chip, a 3/4-inch blacktop overlay.

There was also more routine maintenance to try and keep newer roads from becoming bad roads that will end up costing more money in the future, Fox said. “If we defer maintenance, we are going to have more bad roads.”

One example was the Nova chip paving this summer of Chapel Hill Road in Humphrey and Allegany. The roadway appeared to be in good shape, having been paved a few years ago. The 3/4-inch overlay will add many years to the life of the roadway, Fox said.

Cattaraugus County has about 400 miles of county roads and hundreds of bridges it is responsible for.

There was only one bridge on the schedule this summer, Leon Bridge 8 on County Road 6 in the town of Leon. It was scheduled to be reopened on Friday. “We did some bridge maintenance and resurfacing” instead of building more bridges this year, Fox explained.

“We’ve always had a very aggressive bridge program,” he said. “Based on needs and legislative desires, we’re shifting from a bridge-heavy program to one where we are paving more roads.”

(Contact county reporter Rick Miller at