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February 26, 2014

'The worst winter for potholes'

Communities scramble to keep up with complaints

They’re everywhere.

Across the Merrimack Valley, drivers are swerving to dodge potholes — or risk damaging their cars.

The unusually high number of potholes for this time of year has local leaders pushing their public works crews to make repairs. Communities are even hiring private companies to help.

Haverhill officials said they’ve been attacking the problem with cold patching material, but in addition they hired a local contractor who is bringing in hot asphalt for a longer-lasting repair.

Officials in Haverhill and other communities agreed this has been an exceptionally bad winter for potholes, with up-and-down temperatures causing pavement to expand and contract, and eventually deteriorate.

Methuen DPW Director Raymond DiFiore said he can’t recall a winter like this in 30 years.

“Throughout the winter, we’ve been going to Dracut to Brox (Industries) to pick up hot asphalt,” DiFiore said. “We’ve used very little cold patch, which doesn’t work very well.”

Officials in Haverhill said the only absolute solution is repaving roads. But they said the most practical way to combat the unusually large number of potholes is to apply a temporary cold patch, or better yet a hot asphalt patch that lasts even longer.

Mayor James Fiorentini said he plans to ask the City Council for $10,000 next week to combat the problem.

“We’re inundated with calls about potholes, and rightly so,” Fiorentini said. “I spoke to (DPW Director) Mike Stankovich and he said this is the worst winter for potholes that he can remember.”

Fiorentini said he asked the Highway Department to put additional resources into patching ruts that seem to be everywhere.

Two work crews were out filling potholes yesterday in Haverhill with cold patch material, while the mayor also authorized hiring a local contractor who has a “hot box” that can hold four tons of hot asphalt, which lasts longer than cold patch.

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