Snowbanks, snow melt conspire to chew holes in city streets

LACONIA — City Public Works crews have spent the last three days patching potholes on Union Avenue, between Gilford Avenue and Messer Street, and the length of Court Street, which were lined with cones and barricades last week, Public Works Director Paul Moynihan said yesterday. However, with wintry conditions lingering, he feared the work may prove "a losing battle" with the traffic and the elements.

Moynihan explained that with the frequent storms the snowbanks have reached into the travel lanes, covering the storm drains and catch basins. Moreover, on both Union Avenue and Court Street the travel lanes are rutted and the pavement weakened. With drainage impeded by snowbanks, water collects in the rutted travel lanes then washes toward the curb and seeps into the compromised pavement to undermine the surface, a process exacerbated by the recent cycle of freezing and thawing.

Moynihan said that many of the potholes are on the shoulders of the roadway, which are especially weak. The drivers of the trash trucks, which normally ride on the shoulders, have been asked to stay nearer the travel lane.

Moynihan said that while the department encounters these conditions every year in February and March, the sheer volume of snow and age of the streets has made this winter particularly challenging. He said that the stretch of Union Avenue was last rebuilt in 1991 and Court Street in 1996.

Since there will be no hot asphalt until April, crews are limited to applying a cold mix. At the same time, Moynihan said that he hopes there will be time and resources to remove the snow lining the roads to reduce the volume of melted snow on the roads.

Meanwhile, Moynihan said that work to reconstruct Union Avenue from Gilford Avenue to Messer Street is scheduled to begin next month. "It should be better next winter," he remarked. But, he said it would be at least "a year or two" before significant improvements were made to Court Street. "We can't do both with the funds we have available," he said.