EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 3, 2013

Column: Local road repair depends on swift legislative action

Drive through Andover or North Andover or any surrounding community and it’s clear this winter has taken a toll on area roads. Cracked streets, potholes and other issues are common. Simply put, our municipal roads are in need of repairs, and quickly.

Fortunately, Gov. Deval Patrick has allocated $300 million to help fund these repairs – that translates into more than $3.2 million for Andover and North Andover – as part of his transportation bond bill. Unfortunately, this bill could be debated well into the summer, potentially delaying the start of much work for months.

To begin these projects, make our roads safer and in the process create quality jobs and save local city and town taxpayers millions of dollars, we must pass long-overdue Chapter 90 highway funds now.

Chapter 90 funding is normally allocated by April 1 each year to give cities and towns adequate time to plan the road projects for the season and sign the necessary contracts to begin work on time. Due to New England weather, the road paving and work season in Massachusetts is brief – running from May through September each year.

Last year, state Chapter 90 funds – money that comes from a portion of the gas tax and is used for municipal road construction and resurfacing – was delayed for months, costing us nearly 75 percent of the paving and construction season. As a result, many road projects in Andover and North Andover were delayed, while others couldn’t begin at all.

When Chapter 90 funding is delayed, we are forced to do work in cold, bad weather – and work done when temperatures fall too low does not last as long as work done in better conditions. These delays not only put us behind on road projects, but they also cost significantly more money. What often starts out as a simple repaving or resurfacing project will turn into a much more costly replacement if put off – that’s because every dollar spent on paving and repairs saves $6 to $10 in road replacements.

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