Smithtown town officials plan to assess the condition of several residential roads that could be compromised after Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen allegedly authorized them to be paved in November when the weather was too cold.
Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said Thursday that town engineer Mark Riley has been told to examine the work on at least eight roads that Suffolk County district attorney's officials said were paved in freezing temperatures, against state Department of Transportation construction specifications.
"The town engineer has been directed to go and review the paving on those roads and come back with a report as to how he feels about the sustainability of those roads," Vecchio said Thursday, adding the review could take several days. "If the engineer's reports come back to show that the roads should be repaved, then I'm sure that the town board would expend the money to repave the roads."
Vecchio said the potential costs of any road repairs will depend on what Riley finds in his reviews. Riley said Wednesday that there may be a problem with the roads "three years from now or there may not be a problem at all . . . the only way to really determine if the asphalt achieved its maximum density is to test the asphalt."
Testing entails coring a 4-inch diameter of the roads and extracting sections of pavement to be sent to a lab for analysis. Proper road density is based partly on the period of time that is available for the asphalt to compact, which Riley said is "greatly decreased when it's that cold out."
Jorgensen, 63, of St. James, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to four felony charges and one misdemeanor charge stemming from the November project.
Anthony La Pinta, Jorgenson's Hauppauge-based attorney, said, "I welcome the inspection of the roads and I am confident that the asphalt has not weakened beyond normal deterioration."
The district attorney's officials said Jorgensen destroyed highway road condition reports he knew contained false information about temperatures when Suffolk Asphalt Corp. completed paving work on Nov. 18, directed an employee to put false temperatures on the reports, and took a file from the town engineering office and hid it under his bed.
Smithtown Highway Department road construction reports obtained by Newsday indicate the work was performed on Sixth Avenue from Maple Avenue to Devon Lane; on Devon Lane from Brook Lane to Sixth Avenue; Fourth Avenue from Maple Avenue to a dead end; Colonial Drive from Old Hauppauge Road to Lone Oak Path; Seventh Avenue from Maple Avenue to Devon Lane; Fifth Avenue from Maple Avenue to a dead end; Basswood Lane from Tall Tree Lane to Brook Lane; and South Hillside Avenue from Route 25 to Route 347.
Temperatures listed on these roads first indicated that the weather ranged from 30 to 40 degrees. State DOT standards dictate that temperatures must be at least 45 degrees for paving, Riley said in a Nov. 19 memo to Jorgensen.
Jorgensen responded in a Nov. 20 memo, obtained by Newsday, saying all asphalt reports showed the surface and material temperatures met guidelines listed in the town's 2013 bid contract with Suffolk Asphalt.
In addition to temperature guidelines, the state DOT standards specify that paving should not be done when the road surface is wet, according to town engineering officials. A Newsday review of correspondence to Jorgensen from the engineering department revealed that he allegedly disregarded that condition.
On Dec. 3, a town engineering inspector observed Suffolk Asphalt paving at 7:30 a.m. on Eva Path in Commack when it was "lightly raining and the pavement was wet," according to the documents. The inspector noted that state DOT specifications and the town's own contract required paving should only be performed on a dry surface.
At 9:40 a.m. the inspector wrote that Jorgensen said he was shutting down paving due to rain, but at 1 p.m. Jorgensen "indicated he let them continue to pave."