When it Comes to Haverhill Street Repaving, Public Works Chief Says Timing is Everything

Haverhill City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua showed this photograph in 2022 to his colleagues, showing cars driving left of way because of road obstacles. (Courtesy photograph.)

The condition of many Haverhill city streets is frustrating drivers and possibly putting their safety at risk.

City Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua presented photographs at Tuesday’s City Council meeting depicting the harsh conditions facing drivers on some of the roads undergoing repaving and other improvements. He said motorists are facing potholes and other obstacles on streets where repaving is being left unfinished.

“The problem is that the streets are left in a very, very poor condition from excavation or roadway repairs. Every single neighborhood has streets that are in poor condition,” he said.

As a result, Bevilacqua said drivers, fearing bent rims or flat tires, are driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid the construction. He pointed to one road that has a two-inch drop going into the maintenance area and a two-inch rise when heading out, neither of which, he says, are marked.

Interim Public Works Director Robert E. Ward agreed, but said it comes down, at least in part, to money.

“What actually happens is when we do paving, most of the paving money is (state) Chapter 90 money. Chapter 90 money doesn’t get released until halfway through the paving season. So, once that money is released, every single city and town is scrambling around trying to get paving companies to come in and do the work,” he noted.

Ward said it becomes a scheduling issue where one company will mill the pavement, but a second company hired to pave the road may not be able to do the job right away.

He went on to say there is some good news on the horizon about additional money coming from the state to be used for road repair.

“The state is actually coming out with some additional funds that’s coming down from ARPA or the infrastructure bill. The city is going to get $770,000 above and beyond the Chapter 90 allotment,” he explained.

Ward said the city is also looking at other grants to be used for additional roadwork.

Council Vice President John A. Michitson pointed out, however, that previous DPW Director Michael Stankovich had said about 40% of Haverhill’s roads are in need of some type of repair requiring an investment of about $18 million.

Ward agreed, but said he and Mayor James J. Fiorentini have been in discussions regarding the creation of a capital improvement plan focusing on a multi-year plan of repair for city roads and walkways.

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