EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 19, 2013

Highway crews get bad reviews after storm

Long commutes, poor road conditions lead to lots of complaints

A sidewalk plow driver damaged Cheryl Atkinson’s fence and that’s not all.

“He destroyed my Christmas decorations. I’m not a happy camper,” Atkinson said. “The fence is hanging. It’s, like, bent.”

The Derry resident isn’t the only Granite Stater upset with plow drivers after the storm Tuesday left them sputtering about lousy road conditions and crawling commutes.

Derry roads generated more than a few complaints. But people didn’t spare the state Department of Transportation after the commute Tuesday evening had drivers struggling to find the lanes on Interstate 93 and stuck in 5 mph traffic.

“I saw a salt truck out and he got off at Exit 4 and his plow was up and there were two spinouts, both around the Windham-Derry area,” Shaun Dorrington posted on Facebook. “New Hampshire troopers were helping drivers. It was a mess and that was around 4 p.m.”

Usual travel times doubled and then some.

“It took my daughter almost two hours to travel from Concord Hospital to Derry,” Debby McGrath said on Facebook. “She said it was her worst trip ever.”

Things didn’t improve overnight in some places.

Ryan Frerichs said his 7 a.m. commute yesterday from Derry to Salem got better only as he went south on Route 28.

“Derry was the worst part,” Frerichs said. “There was a lot of snow on the road.”

Colleen Sherlock said on Facebook she was appalled by conditions of sidewalks going to Grinnell Elementary School in Derry.

“Most of the sidewalks were not even cleared yet, forcing us to walk in the road,” Sherlock said.

Derry public works director Mike Fowler acknowledged crews had more work to do around schools.

“Some areas around schools weren’t done,” Fowler said about noontime yesterday. “They’re catching up with those.”

The storm Tuesday delivered only about half a foot, compared to the 10 inches Saturday, but provided a whole different set of challenges.

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