Weather Updates

Spring is in the air, and potholes are in the road

Updated: May 1, 2013 2:23PM

For most, pothole season means unwanted turbulence from the comfort of a car or possibly a flat tire, but for Michelle Anderson, the roadway pockmarks are potentially fatal.

“I’m constantly looking down and praying I don’t hit a big one,” said Anderson, who cruises the city on a Vespa scooter.

“I actually saw one on my way home on Chicago Avenue last night, that if I’d gone in it, I would have flipped over. ... It’s a foot deep, and if the front wheel goes in, you’re going over and down,” said Anderson, 40, a restaurant manager from Humboldt Park.

As of Thursday, city crews filled more than 100,000 potholes this month, a 56 percent increase compared to the 64,000 potholes filled in the entire month of March last year.

An average of 6,000 potholes a day have been filled by 27 crews working for the Chicago Department of Transportation, said department spokesman Peter Scales. March is traditionally the busiest pothole month of the year, he said.

“I’ll catch them unawares, they’ll definitely jolt you back awake,” said Colin Carlson, 25, who drives a Fiat and lives in Lincoln Square. “But most of the time, it’s something I focus on to make sure I go around them. There are some doozies on Western Avenue.”

Particularly egregious potholes bend tire rims, and ultimately the ears of 311 operators who field calls from upset residents.

Some communities are more vocal about their potholes than others.

The city’s 19th Ward, which covers the Beverly and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods, had twice as many pothole repair requests — 993 — in March alone as the next closest ward, the Northwest Side’s 41st, with 411. The 46th Ward, which covers the Uptown neighborhood, had the fewest requests, only 68.

Of the 200,000 filled so far this year, half were filled in March, Scales said.

Frequent seesawing temperatures make March a prime breeding ground for potholes by causing the roadway to expand, contract and ultimately crack.

Residents can report potholes to the city’s 311 non-emergency number or go online and use this condensed link:

This year, residents can even open a pothole repair request by text-messaging the number 311311 with the word “chicago” to start the process, Scales said.

Each morning, CDOT’s “pothole command” generates a map of potholes reported to 311 to determine what routes to use to fill the most potholes possible with an asphalt mix, according to the city’s website.

Even alley potholes are repaired by city crews, Scales noted, although more heavily-traveled, arterial streets take priority. Most requests are addressed within seven days, city officials say.

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