BOSTON — A brutal winter has taken its toll on the state’s roadways, leaving potholes that have turned streets into obstacle courses, damaged vehicles and strained municipal budgets.
“It’s like a minefield in some places,” said Tim Marcus, 35, of Salem, who commutes to Boston where he works as a security guard. “You’re driving down the road, swerving and dodging these big holes. It’s a safety hazard.”
Local governments have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars patching potholes this year, even as they’ve struggled to clear snow and ice during one of coldest winters in two decades.
“Our roads really took a beating,” said Robert Langley, public works director for Peabody, which has spent nearly $100,000 fixing potholes in the past few months, double what it typically spends. “I’ve never seen it this bad.”
The state Department of Transportation is doling out more money to repair the state’s battered roads. The agency announced this week that it will send $30 million to cities and towns, and spend $10 million on state-maintained roads, including interstate highways.
“We experienced an extraordinary winter season that caused damage to our roads, bridges and vehicles well beyond the typical year,” said Transportation Secretary Richard Davey. “This one-time, targeted program will speed repair and recovery and maintain safe travel for motorists.”
This winter’s string of snowstorms forced cities and towns to spend millions more than they’d budgeted for salt, sand, fuel and overtime for plow drivers. That makes the state’s assistance with pothole money even more important.
The funding formula is based on population and miles of roadway. According to MassDOT, for example, Peabody will get $189,000 and Wenham $22,000. Funds must be used by September or returned to the state.
The state has received nearly 1,700 pothole complaints and already spent more than $880,000 repairing potholes on state roadways, according to MassDOT.