The Erie County Legislature on Thursday approved spending up to $300,000 to begin design and engineering work on the reconstruction of Goodrich Road in Clarence, to the apparent bewilderment of at least one freshman legislator.
Democrat Patrick B. Burke of South Buffalo joined the rest of his colleagues in supporting the measure, but still wondered why the county has possession of and responsibility for a road that exists entirely within the boundaries of Clarence.
“I’m not necessarily voting against the measure, but I want some sort of understanding, clarification of what we expect a county road to be, and I want to know why this is county property and a definition of what a county road is,” Burke said.
The county owns and is responsible for 2,400 lane miles of road, none of which is within the boundaries of the City of Buffalo, a fact that has been a source of contention between suburban legislators and those whose districts lie either entirely or mostly within the city limits.
“With a county road, you imagine a rural road,” Burke said after Thursday’s meeting.
“Goodrich Road runs through Clarence Center and then ends at Spaulding Lake, the wealthiest area in all of Western New York, and it’s being subsidized for access,” Burke added.
Last year, County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz budgeted and spent about $36 million for road, bridge and dam reconstruction projects in the county, though lawmakers aligned with the Republican minority urged him to spend more.
Majority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo on Thursday advised Burke, whose district includes part of Cheektowaga, to forward his questions about why the county has responsibility for Goodrich Road to officials in the Department of Public Works.
“The fact is, we own Goodrich Road, and we’re going to own it for the foreseeable future, and we have a responsibility as county legislators to make sure that our assets and infrastructure are maintained and kept up to snuff,” said Lorigo, a Conservative from West Seneca.
Republican Legislator Edward A. Rath III, of Amherst, who also represents Clarence, was a sponsor of the legislation. “Goodrich Road has been identified for years and years and years as one of the worst roads in Erie County,” Rath said.
The design work would be the first of many phases of work required before actual reconstruction of the road surface can commence. Thursday’s resolution will allow the county to enter into a contract with Clark Patterson Lee for preliminary engineering work on Goodrich from Lapp to Tonawanda Creek roads in Clarence.