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      Potholes make annual appearance on area roads

      It's that time of year when potholes are big problems.

      "We're looking at all the state roads," said Joe Baker of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

      Of the 3,300 lane miles of roads that the state must maintain, potholes are being filled now.

      "After the rains we've had over the weekend and the rains we're dealing with today on Tuesday, it makes a lot of the potholes that exist worse and creates new ones as well," Baker said.

      The state tracks the number of claims that come in for damaged cars. The numbers this year are a bit up.

      The state received six claims in November and 15 in December. Since the beginning of January, 53 claims have come in.

      "Certainly, it's a derivative of the really cold temperatures that we had. We had lot of frost in the ground, and that's what creates a lot of the issues of the pavements starting to break down," Baker said.

      Officials said the trend is down in Providence. So far this month, the city has had only 16 claims for cars damaged by potholes.

      Perhaps it has to do with a major street rebuilding program.

      "We're doing the best we can to improve the roads of the city," said Bill Bombard of the Providence Department of Public Works.

      The Providence Road Improvement Project, funded by a $40 million bond approved by voters in 2012, is intended to rebuild and to repair about 65 miles of roads, or one out of every six roads in the city.

      "We've identified the streets through a scientific process of identifying which streets need to be done first, which are the worst streets, which are streets will benefit the most from the expenditure of these funds," Bombard said.

      Officials in Warwick said they're maintaining last year's average, temporarily patching potholes with cold patch.