WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Strap on your seat-belts, we’re about to take a bumpy ride through Westfield.
This past spring was one of the city’s worst-ever pothole seasons. The 22News I-Team found out those massive craters in the road haven’t just been an annoyance for drivers, they’ve also cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
The money has been spent on a lot more than just asphalt. According to the city’s settlements and claims, they’ve paid $30-thousand to drivers whose cars were damaged by potholes over the past 5-years, money that comes straight from your taxes.
Between June 2015 and June 2019, Westfield paid out $845,054 to settle 204 claims. The claims range from sewer and water issues and mailbox damage, to vehicle damage from potholes. A majority of the claims, 139 of 204, were the result of pothole damage.
The I-Team spoke to Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan about the money the city spends on pothole claims. “We do spend well over probably $15 to $20-thousand a year just in claims.”
TAMARA: “What do you think taxpayers would say about that money?”
MAYOR SULLIVAN: “The ones that have gotten money appreciate it, the ones that don’t have an issue with it. That’s why we need to spend the $5-million fixing the roads, instead of just spending all of our money on potholes.”
Sullivan told the I-Team, potholes are an expensive problem, which is why they’re now investing in a long-term solution. “We’re in a management plan right now, so we’re fixing our roads instead of chasing our tails with the potholes every year, because it gets expensive.”
The state does help cover the cost of some road repairs. This past year, lawmakers allocated $200-million for Chapter 90 funding, which is given to communities for local road and bridge repairs, but that money must be distributed between 351 cities and towns.
Westfield has has spent about $5-million on road repairs so far this year; $1.2-million of that came from Chapter 90 funding, the rest came from the city’s general fund.
The Westfield DPW has re-done seven roads so far this year, and the mayor said they’re hoping to repave a few more before winter. “It’s a long process that quite honestly, the city hasn’t been good at over the past 30-years, but we’re trying to get better.”
To see which projects the Westfield DPW is currently working on, click here.