HAVERHILL — The city completed a historic year of more road repairs than any year in recent memory.
Now Haverhill is preparing for a new year of road repairs with the help of more than $150,000 in additional Chapter 90 Local Transportation Aid Funding, bringing the total for fiscal year 2020 to more than $1.6 million in state aid.
City officials say the additional money will allow for more roads to be paved this year than originally planned.
"Residents want good roads and their potholes patched," Mayor James Fiorentini said. "We took a good first step last year doing more than we normally do and this additional money will help us this year."
The recently enacted Fiscal Year 2020 Supplemental Budget will grant Haverhill an additional $153,561 in Chapter 90 Local Transportation Aid.
The extra money brings Haverhill’s total Chapter 90 allocation to $1,689,173 for the fiscal year. The Chapter 90 program entitles cities and towns to receive reimbursements on approved infrastructure projects.
"Infrastructure investments remain at the top of our priority list," said state Rep. Andy Vargas, D-Haverhill. "Haverhill has 36 square miles, dozens of bridges, and increasing traffic congestion. The supplemental budget we passed builds on the infrastructure funding we’ve been able to secure for Haverhill and I look forward to continuing to boost the Ch 90 program. It is critical for our economy and transportation infrastructure."
Chapter 90 funds are issued by the state to communities for capital improvement, such as highway construction, preservation and other related projects. The program is considered an integral part of maintaining and improving transportation networks within the Commonwealth.
Under the mayor's new capital improvement plan, the plan is to funnel $3 million annually for five years into the work ($1.5 million from the state and $1.5 million from the city).
But the mayor said that with all of the demands on the city's budget, it is too early to determine exactly how much in local taxpayer money can be put into road repairs this year.
"You hear it every day about the need for new schools, new fire stations and more police," he said. "But the additional state aid will help us and our goal this year is to start paving earlier to give us enough time to use all of the money."
Fiorentini said the city typically receives $1.4 to $1.5 million a year in state Chapter 90 money for road work. Last year, the city matched that amount and negotiated a $600,000 payment from National Grid, bringing last year's total to $3.6 million.
The mayor said he hopes to continue matching state funding through 2024. Last year was the first time the city spent local taxpayer money on road repair projects, he said.
"We never had the finances to do that and we will try again this year. But because of other capital improvement needs, we just don't know yet," he said.