By Shawn Regan
---- — HAVERHILL — The state just can’t seem to finish off projects the right way, according to some city officials.
First it was utility poles placed in the middle of sidewalks near Bradford Common, impeding public access and messing the area’s aesthetics. Now some city councilors say the state did a poor job paving portions of Water Street (Route 113) and Main Street.
Councilor Michael McGonagle said uneven areas of newly-paved sections of both roadways around manhole covers are so bad that some drivers swerve into bicycle lanes to avoid them.
With the state about to begin paving a massive swath of Route 125 next year as part of the ongoing reconstruction of the city’s busiest roadway, McGonagle wants to make sure the same mistakes that were made on Main and Water streets aren’t repeated elsewhere.
McGonagle said he intends to discuss ways for improving how city roads are paved, whether by the state or by the city, at an upcoming council meeting.
“With the state about to pave Route 125, I think it’s a good time to figure out how we can do better,” McGonagle said.
Councilor William Macek said he drove over a couple of manhole covers last week on Water Street near Lincoln Avenue, and that they are bad enough to damage the tires or rims of a car.
State Transportation Department spokesman Michael Verseckes said if there are gaps between asphalt and manhole covers on state roadways, it most likely means the project isn’t finished and the final coat of hot-top has yet to be laid.
“This is the time when paving is being stopped because it’s cost-prohibitive to work against the elements,” Verseckes said. “We’ll be back in the spring to finish up.”
McGonagle said there have also been similar problems at road paving jobs under the city’s control.
“Whether the state is overseeing paving or we are, there are standards that are supposed to followed,” he said. “We need to make sure that is happening.”
The Route 125 project, which stretches from the Basiliere Bridge to the Ward Hill Connector, has been called the biggest public works project in Bradford’s history. It includes new drainage, sidewalks, curbs, traffic signals and roadway improvements.
The utility poles that were placed in sidewalks around Bradford Common were also the result of the Route 125 project. The poles had to be moved to accommodate the road work, and when they were put back many were placed in the middle of sidewalks in the area.
Verseckes said the Route 125 project is 80 percent done and is scheduled to be completed in June. It was originally expected to cost $14.6 million, however, because of a slowdown in the economy and more firms bidding on construction jobs, the actual cost has been driven down to $13.1 million, he said.