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I-Team: Boston’s Two Biggest Pothole Trouble Spots

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BOSTON (CBS) – It’s been a rough couple of winters for snow and for potholes. The I-Team has learned that during the past couple of years, there are just two spots in the city of Boston that are causing a lot of damage.

“I knew as soon as I hit it, it would be an issue,” Renee Sabo said. “I fell off the road.”

Car versus pothole. Renee Sabo knows what it’s like to lose that match up on a Boston street. “It completely tore up two of my tires,” she said.

From 2011 to 2013, the city of Boston shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to pay for damage to cars. Records obtained by the I-Team show that nearly half of the money paid out are connected to just two locations. They are two tunnels under Mass Ave: one on Huntington Avenue and the Commonwealth Ave. underpass before it was recently re-surfaced.

The city paid out dozens of settlements in these areas for some significant amounts.

No one at city hall would speak to WBZ-TV on camera about the problem. A spokesperson said simply they are busy roads.

So WBZ enlisted the help of Wentworth Institute of Technology professor and former Big Dig engineer James Lambrechts. Using Mobile 4, WBZ took him on a tour through the trouble spots in search of answers.

“If it’s still wet after it hadn’t rain for two days, when the water freezes, it expands, and it generates a pothole,” Lambrechts says.

Professor Lambrechts also said shadows in the tunnels make it difficult to see trench-like craters in the road.

“You can’t move to the right to avoid that pothole because now you’re on the wall,” Lambrechts says, “and you can’t move to the left to avoid it because there’s traffic next to you.”

Renee Sabo’s damage happened at the Charlesgate ramp, just feet from the Commonwealth Ave underpass. Her claim was denied, because the ramp is a state road (Commonwealth Ave is a city road) and the state doesn’t have to pay.

“I don’t understand why there is such a big discrepancy,” Sabo said.

“The statute just doesn’t provide for property damages on a state road,” said Doug Sheff, President of the Massachusetts Bar Association. “If you can find some way of saying maybe the city and the state combined to create a defect then you might have an argument.”

Sabo says the city should at least make it easier to figure out which roads are which.

“You had to submit all the paperwork,” Sabo said. “You had to have several pictures of different angles you had to draw diagrams of where you were facing when you hit the pothole. It was a lot of work and it was vetoed.”

Even if you are on a city street, that’s no guarantee. The law states that municipalities are only on the hook if they are aware a pothole is causing damage and they fail to fix it in a timely manner.

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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