Why Road Quality Matters

By Don Keller

I suspect most islanders are aware of the problems and resident dissatisfaction associated with the recent paving of many residential streets on Grand Island using the “micro-paving” process. Micro-paving in a cheap alternative to an asphalt overlay, but unlike asphalt, it leaves a rough gritty surface behind as the finished product. The poor road surface quality hinders activities like skateboarding, blading or street sports, and provides a noticeably rougher ride when driving a vehicle or bike on it. The term micro-paving is really a misnomer, as the dictionary defines paving as “to cover a piece of ground with concrete, asphalt, stones, or bricks”. Micro-paving doesn’t meet that definition, as it employs the spraying of a thin latex like substance over the road which splatters on curbs, and tracks up residents driveways, literally ruining “curb appeal”. Having substandard paving on town streets impacts home values, saleability and our quality of life. It also creates the impression to non-islanders that we have a lower standard of infrastructure, service and prosperity here. Those impressions can be hard to reverse.

I’ve talked to Highway Superintendents from Amherst, Tonawanda and Hamburg. They don’t use micro-paving in their towns. Amherst experimented with it briefly years ago but was dissatisfied with the results and has no plans to ever use it. I’d like to hope our roads could be at least equal in quality as to roads in surrounding communities, but in a recent conversation I had with our Deputy Highway Superintendent Dick Crawford, he expressed to me “that he stands behind the micro-paving product and process, and plans to continue its use on Grand Island”. That’s disappointing, because in many respects, Grand Island’s perception and potential depends on making smart infrastructure choices. Continued use of micro-paving isn’t a smart choice.