Schedule conflicts delay Haverhill street paving, drawing ire

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Aug. 15—HAVERHILL — City Councilor Joseph Bevilacqua drove down Carleton Street recently and didn't like what he saw.

During a City Council meeting, Bevilacqua said there are streets in the city where repaving has been unfinished for weeks. He said the "poor condition" of city streets has residents complaining as well as expressing concerns for their safety and possible damage to their tires.

As a result, Bevilacqua said, residents have been driving on the wrong side of Carleton Street to avoid the conditions that could damage their vehicles.

Interim DPW Director Robert Ward said the city has been working to repave its streets, but the job can turn into a tricky situation when working with multiple parties.

Ward explained that it all boils down to scheduling issues.

He said street repaving is funded by state Chapter 90 money, which he said isn't released until July, often leaving communities "scrambling" to get private paving companies to do the work.

Ward said the problem emerges when a company mills the pavement, but scheduling issues may prevent a paving company from doing the job immediately after the milling takes place. Residents have complained of a section of Carleton Street being left in the milled condition for weeks.

"We try and get the paving company to come in as soon as they can," Ward said of the protocol to finish paving. "There is usually a two to three week period after a road is milled before it will be repaved."

Ward said the repaving of Carleton Street was already scheduled.

"Carleton Street was scheduled to be repaved before the City Council meeting," Ward said, adding that it wasn't in response to Bevilacqua's concerns.

Ward said a number of streets have been milled and repaved this year, but others are being planned.

In the meantime, Ward said, the city is looking to obtain additional grants to pay for street repairs and repaving.

Ward said the city expects to receive an additional $770,000 in Chapter 90 money through MassDOT's Winter Recovery Assistance Program (WRAP). The program provides supplemental funding for cities to improve their transportation in winter weather.

Council President Timothy Jordan pointed out that previous DPW Director Michael Stankovich said that 40% of Haverhill's streets are in poor condition, requiring an $18 million investment for repairs.

Ward said that he and Mayor James Fiorentini have been discussing developing a capital improvement plan that would provide for a more punctual response to street repairs.