EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 30, 2014

Smooth operators

Dual hot boxes deployed to attack problem pot holes

By Shawn Regan

---- — HAVERHILL — The city has a new weapon to fight what’s being called the worst winter for pot holes in years.

Until recently, highway workers had been attacking the problem with cold patching material. But too often the cold fill began to deteriorate within weeks or even days of being applied, highway officials said.

The only sure solution is repaving roads, but officials said the quickest and most practical way to combat the unusually large number of potholes this winter is to apply a hot asphalt patch that lasts longer.

A few weeks ago the city hired a local contractor to use its “hot box” machine, which can hold three tons of steaming asphalt. The mobile steel container keeps the fill hot by a propane gas heating system.

Mike Mazzotta of Mazzotta Construction in Haverhill has been using his hot box to repair streets in the western part of the city to fill potholes, while Highway Department foreman Roland Goudreault’s crew worked on streets in the eastern part of the city with a hot box the city recently purchased.

The city hired Mazzotta to help fill potholes that have been plaguing city streets throughout the winter.

“We’ve been going out every day,” Goudreault said, noting that his crew tows the city’s new hot box to Brox Industries in Dracut in the morning to fill it with enough hot asphalt for a day’s worth of pothole patching.

“It’s doing what it’s supposed to do,” Goudreault said about the city’s new hot box.

City Council recently OK’d an extra $10,000 to repairs city roads and fill potholes, which are caused primarily by up-and-down temperatures that cause pavement to expand and contract, and eventually deteriorate.

City officials are also using the public to identify the worst pot holes. This spring, the mayor said, he will launch another pot hole contest.

The contest provides a prizes for residents who report potholes, which the city promises to fill within 48 hours of them being reported.