Street & Sidewalk Maintenance FAQ's
What causes potholes?
Potholes can be caused by water seeping under the pavement through cracks or from the side of the road. The material under the pavement erodes from the water damage causing the pavement to break and sink down. Winter causes the water under the pavement to freeze and thaw causing contracting and expanding. This freeze and thaw cycle causes the pavement to crack. Once cracked, the pavement deteriorates under the weight of traffic and potholes seem to appear overnight.
Why do potholes reappear?
Making permanent repairs during the winter is difficult and expensive. In winter months, Public Works fills potholes with both cold and hot patch. Temporary repairs are intended to maintain safety and minimize damage to vehicles. Permanent repairs require waiting until spring. In spring, permanent repairs are made using hot asphalt.
Why does there seem to be an increase in potholes?
Our geographical location near the coast caused extensive freeze/thaw cycles. Winter and spring, with periods of cold temperatures, rain and snow causes and increase in potholes.
How can I request a street or sidewalk repair?
Please use Commonwealth Connect at any time to report the address and nature of a defect.
Service requests are generally checked each business day and initial inspections scheduled within two business days of receipt (weather and other circumstances permitting).
If you feel the situation is an urgent safety concern and in need of immediate attention, please do not e-mail or leave a voicemail through the contacts listed above; instead, please call our 24 hour emergency line at 617.349.4880 to speak to a staff member.
Where can I get more information or assistance related to construction I see on a City street or sidewalk?
Please visit our City Projects page to learn more about public construction throughout Cambridge.
How can I find out more about the City's long-term street and sidewalk reconstruction schedules?