SHERMAN – Residents along a crumbling 10-mile stretch of state Route 76 in Sherman say they have grown accustomed to dodging potholes.
The two-lane thoroughfare, area motorists note, acts more as a roadblock than a major artery connecting Interstate 86 to Clymer, and has deteriorated within the last three years. Several Amish families living on the state road say they are hesitant to travel, fearing damage to their buggies and horses.
“Nobody wants to travel. It’s that bad,” said Chris Yoder, who lives a quarter-mile from the Southern Tier Expressway on Route 76. “There’s no reason why someone can’t come out here and fix it.”
Yoder, whose horse recently went lame while traveling on the road, said he has contacted the state Department of Transportation for the last three years regarding the surface condition. He said Route 76 has become almost impossible to navigate, by car or buggy.
“It’s getting to the point where you don’t want to take a horse or buggy on the road at all,” he said. “I called about it and they didn’t do anything.”
Concerns over the road were heightened last week following an accident in which a Cargill feed truck overturned and ended up in the ravine. Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputies said Justin Raynor, 32, of Conewango Valley, lost control of the truck and left the roadway; he was transported to Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pa., for minor injuries.
A Cargill spokesman said a cause of the accident was still under investigation.
After the crash, numerous residents contacted The Post-Journal to voice frustration with the road condition. A half-dozen were interviewed, all of whom said they want to see repairs.
“I was just thinking it would be nice for trucks not to sound like a freight train when they go by. It’s that loud,” said Andy Yoder, who has lived in Sherman for 14 years. “It’s pretty rough on the vehicles and our buggies and horses.”
Clara Miller and her husband, Ivan, have owned Miller’s Greenhouse on Route 76 for nine years. Miller said many customers have complained of the road.
“It’s really horrible,” Miller said. “Some of our customers said they wouldn’t come back.”
Sherman town officials said they have received complaints from local residents regarding the potholes. A letter to the state DOT was sent after one town board meeting last year in which several families voiced displeasure over the lack of progress.
Susan Surdej, spokeswoman for the state DOT, said milling work and new asphalt is expected to be laid on Route 76 in mid-July between I-86 and Main Street in Sherman. Work will last two weeks and is expected to be awarded to a contractor shortly, she said.
“I know the road is rough,” Surdej told The Post-Journal. “We have been addressing the potholes and trying to maintain them in anticipation of this award.”
Surdej said she has not received any complaints on the road, noting most calls from local residents are regarding the nearby interstate.