The state Legislature has approved $200 million for municipalities to maintain, repair and improve local roads and bridges. Haverhill can expect to receive about $1.5 million, which is the same amount as last year. Cities and towns were slated to see increased funding for road repairs this year, but that was before the state began losing tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Haverhill Highway Department has paved a few roads this summer, including Essex and High streets, with money left over from last year. Work crews are also performing crack-sealing, micro-surfacing and other preventative maintenance on various streets.
Meanwhile, Mayor James J. Fiorentini and DPW officials are reviewing the list of roads to be paved. Work will begin in early August. The city hires a private company to inspect, analyze and grade every public road and then generate a prioritized list of recommended paving projects. The review considers, among other factors, the age and condition of the road surface, and how heavily a street is used. Input from residents is also considered. The public is encouraged to call the mayor’s 311 constituent services phone line with requests.
Last year, the city matched the road-paving funding from the state and was able to pave more of its 1,400 streets and 424 curb miles than in any previous year. The mayor had planned to make a similar local match this year but was unable to do so due to tax revenue losses at the local level from the pandemic.
“Street paving is one of the things residents have been asking for and want more of,” Mayor Fiorentini said. “Haverhill is one of the largest cities in the state, so no matter how many roads we do and how much we spend, there’s always going to be more to do. But in recent years and in upcoming years, we are doing more road paving than ever, and we are making it a priority to get as much of the city’s backlog of paving done as soon as possible.”