Street & Sidewalk Maintenance FAQ's

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.

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.

How can I request a street or sidewalk repair?

Please call our street and sidewalk defect line at 617.349.4854 or e-mail theworks@cambridgema.gov at any time to report the address and nature of a defect.  You can also use our online reporting form.

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 617.349.4860 to speak to a staff member.

How do I inquire about the status of a prior request for street or sidewalk repair?

If you have made a request for a street or sidewalk repair more than a week ago, and have still not heard back on the status of your request, please contact the Street and Sidewalk Maintenance Division directly at 617.349.4851.

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?

Please see our 5 Year Street and Sidewalk Plan to learn more about upcoming projects and the approach used to prioritize these projects.

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Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139

Phone:617.349.4800
TDD:617.499.9924

Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

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