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Chicago Nearing Record For Pothole Repairs


CHICAGO (CBS) -- Thanks to a miserable winter that broke records for cold and snow, the city already has received more claims than ever for damage from potholes, and is on pace to fill the most potholes ever in one year.

WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports the Chicago City Clerk's office has received more than 3,600 claims for pothole damage from this past winter, compared with an average of around 700. In the previous three years combined, there were only 2,200 such claims.

Meantime, the city is still busy trying to smooth over a virtual moonscape of potholes on Chicago's streets. Up to 30 city crews have been working to fill a massive amount of potholes on what – to drivers at least – is sure to seem like every single street in Chicago.

"So far this year, we've filled more than 545,000 potholes," said Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Scales. "Last year, we filled about 630,000 I think, and so we're on pace to exceed that record."

Workers have tried the latest in pothole technology, but found the old ways are the best ways.

"A couple years ago we tried a new technology that was a pothole-filling machine, more or less; that extruded asphalt out of a tube, and into the hole," he said. "It never really worked as good as folks with shovels."

Scales said there was nothing new about the freeze-thaw cycles that created so many potholes this past winter. It was just much worse than usual, with a record number of days at or below zero, and more than 80 inches of snow.

"This was just really a factor of how brutal the winter was," Scales said. "Those temperature swings were so dramatic, and that combined with a lot of moisture. When you get moisture in the cracks in the pavement, and then the water freezes there, it loosens up the pavement, and that creates a pothole."

In an effort to keep ahead of another spike in potholes next winter, the city plans to resurface about 350 miles of city streets.

Earlier this year, the mayor ordered an audit of any recently repaved city streets, to enforce a one-year warranty on asphalt. If any potholes have cropped up on streets that were repaved in the past year, the city will force contractors to pave them again, or reimburse the city for the cost.

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