EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 19, 2013

Highway crews get bad reviews after storm

Long commutes, poor road conditions lead to lots of complaints

(Continued)

“We’ll likely be out dealing with intersections,” Fowler said.

Salem’s crews were clearing sidewalks yesterday, Russell said.

DOT kept crews working.

“Conditions were very good for the morning commute with travel lanes mostly clear, salt being more effective with rising temperatures and sunshine,” Boynton said.

Complaints like Atkinson’s come with every storm.

Lori Trickel of Derry said she lost a mailbox in the weekend storm.

“I went out and yelled at him,” Trickel said.

“Deal with it, lady,” came the plow driver’s response, she said.

“He could have at least said he was sorry,” Trickel said.

People can call the public works department in those cases, but Fowler said the town’s policy is not to replace items damaged within eight feet of the pavement.

The town will provide a replacement when it is deemed warranted, but he said those instances are rare.

Fowler stressed drivers aren’t doing it deliberately.

“They’re not out there to target mailboxes,” he said.

State law holds public works departments harmless for such damages in the right of way, Russell said.

But Salem’s policy is to help property owners.

“We do repair mailboxes,” Russell said. “We do it as public relations.”

The storm will have financial consequences.

Boynton said DOT hasn’t yet calculated costs from the most recent storms.

“This past weekend’s storm along with this past day’s event will be costly,” Boynton said. “An eight-hour storm statewide costs (DOT) about $600,000 and crews were out about 24 hours in an overtime period.”

DOT spends about $40 million a year on winter road maintenance, he said.

“As of last Thursday, we were one quarter of the way through winter and had expended 16 percent of the budget at $6.7 million,” Boynton said. “That figure has certainly gone up quite a bit since then.”

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