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DPW paves the way with project that addresses pothole issues in Lynn

LYNN — A repaving project that begins Sunday kicks off roadwork on Boston Street to address one of the worst areas for potholes in the city. Pothole claims this year could cost the city thousands of dollars.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) will begin construction to resurface, or pave, a portion of Boston Street on Sunday. That phase of the construction will take three days and no parking signs will be posted in advance with dates and times of restricted parking, according to an announcement from George Potter, superintendent of the street division of the DPW.

There will be no parking from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and vehicles impeding the construction will be towed, Potter said.

DPW Commissioner Andrew Hall said Boston Street is terrible for potholes. The paving is part of a project in the works for new sidewalks and a roundabout at the intersection of Boston and Federal streets, which is set to start early next spring. A traffic signal will be placed at the intersection.

Paving next week will be on Boston Street from Bridge Street to Austin Square. Next spring, there will be paving on Boston Street from Austin Square to Mall Street and Mall Street to Granite Street, Hall said.

He said the rotary and signal work is estimated to cost $2.5 million, which will be paid for by a MassWorks grant awarded to the city this year.

According to James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, there have been 23 pothole claims this year, from Jan. 1 to last Friday. The claims run anywhere from $200 to $1,200, with people filing complaints about flat tires, a damaged undercarriage or other car damage.

An updated amount of claims filed with the city’s law department was not available on Thursday, but Lamanna said he received a phone call on Wednesday from a woman who said she popped two tires while driving around the city.

Lamanna said people have 30 days to submit a claim to the law department if their vehicle is damaged by a pothole while driving on a street in Lynn — a lot of the damage happens during construction after the grinding of the road. People will often have their tire replaced and submit that paperwork with their claim, which is submitted to the DPW. The DPW goes out to the site where the claimant says the damage happened to see if there is a pothole or it’s been repaired, he said.

If there’s liability, or if the city knew pothole was there and the damage occurred, the law department will try to negotiate some type of settlement with the claimant, he said.

Lamanna said it would be impossible to settle every claim or other claims, such as a tree falling on a house from a storm, as there’s only $18,500 budgeted for claims filed with the law department. The funds are also for claims such as someone who trips and gets injured while walking on a sidewalk, or a tree falling on a car or fence.

“We will dispute claims if the city has no knowledge of the pothole, and will try to negotiate downwards,” Lamanna said. “Because of the limited amount of funds, (we’re) forced to contest and evaluate as far as what’s a fair offer.”

Hall said roadwork is often done in response to pothole complaints. There is about $100,000 each year in the DPW budget for pothole repair. The city website has a link to complain about potholes.

For instance, he said another bad area for potholes was South Street, but work has since been completed to fix that. In a couple of weeks, another bad area at lower Sagamore Street will be ground and then paved shortly after, he said.

Hall said pothole complaints are pretty steady throughout the year.

He said the freeze and thaw process on the roads in the spring, which is typically in March, will cause a spike in pothole complaints. The streets wear out as a result of the freezing and thawing over and over, which creates all the potholes.

“Roads are constantly falling apart,” Hall said. “I wish there was more money, (but we) just don’t have the resources. We do what we can with what we have.”

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