Let’s face it. New York City streets go through a lot of wear and tear. With thousands upon thousands of cars, trucks and buses rolling over the thousands upon thousands of miles of pavement every hour, it’s natural that the surfaces need upkeep.
Top that with the harsh weather extremes — summer heat, winter cold — and the corrosive salt used to met ice and snow, the asphalt surface doesn’t stand a chance.
That’s why every spring and summer, the city Department of Transportation undergoes massive street repaving projects all across the city.
One DOT source likened repaving city streets to the legend about painting the George Washington Bridge. It takes so long to do it all that by the time you’re done, you have to start over.
This year, several major streets were repaved, including Woodhaven Boulevard in Woodhaven, Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park, Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens, the Horace Harding Expressway in Bayside Hills and Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.
They needed it. Rockaway Boulevard between Lefferts Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway, for example, had become a virtual moonscape. Potholes littered the boulevard like a bombed-out road in a war zone. The road stripings were almost completely faded away.
But the work proved to be a nuisance for many residents and drivers, though admittedly a necessary one. The milling of the roadbed leaves a rough surface that can damage cars and is often left for several weeks before new asphalt is laid. And even when the surface is repaired, it may be several more weeks before lane markings are painted, leading to traffic confusion.
Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel was resurfaced earlier this year. The process though did not go over well with some residents in the area. Several took to Facebook to report that their cars were damaged by the rough road surface during the process.
Angelica Katz, chief of staff to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park), said her office received complaints about issues with the milled surface and the length of time between the milling and repaving — which was several weeks.
But Dan Mundy Sr. of the West 12th Road Block Association said the overall project, which was needed on the busy stretch of road, was well done.
“We actually sent a letter to the construction company that did the work complimenting them on the job they did,” he said.
He said the biggest issue Broad Channel dealt with was the fight over sidewalk and curb repair work, which had been cancelled due to federal funds being pulled. The money was eventually restored and the work was done.
Kenichi Wilson, chairman of Community Board 9’s Transportation Committee, said there were some issues in Woodhaven with the milling of streets, including around Forest Park Co-ops, where millers broke open the curbs in some spots, exposing rebar that could puncture tires or injure pedestrians.
Several civic leaders in South Queens said they had been told the reason for the delay between milling and paving was to allow utilities to do any maintenance work on infrastructure under the roadbed before it is repaved.
Once a street is resurfaced, the DOT lists it as protected for five years, meaning it cannot be opened except for emergency work. But emergency work is common. A situation like that occurred in Rego Park last summer when only a few weeks after Woodhaven Boulevard was repaved, Con Edison opened up the street near Penelope Avenue for emergency construction, leaving an uneven surface for several months.
Before the boulevard was repaved last month in Woodhaven, there was work being done under the southbound side at 91st Avenue.
But Wilson was unsure if that was the reason there was a gap between the milling and repaving.
“I don’t know if they synchronize that,” he said, adding the delay may be due to the amount of time it takes to mill versus resurface. He said the DOT will mill a bunch of streets at once before laying down asphalt.
“If you’re one of the first streets milled, you might have to wait until every other street is milled before they pave,” he said.
CB 9’s district manager, Mary Ann Carey, acknowledged some residents complained about the length of time between milling and resurfacing, but other than that the community board did not receive any complaints from residents about the work.
In 2010, it took almost three weeks to repave some residential streets in Ozone Park, causing one resident to verbally assault a contractor who was driving the steamroller to smooth out 103rd Street’s new surface.
The DOT did not return repeated requests for comment.