Some residents filling potholes themselves

April 8, 2009 3:27:10 PM PDT
Some Chicago residents are fed up with the city's pothole problem so they are taking matters into their own hands. Residents and members of a community group are fixing the holes themselves. The South Austin Coalition is helping residents make rides on their pock-marked streets a little smoother by providing the material needed to fill potholes.

Potholes are everywhere. Many Chicagoans say they have to drive in the city looking down to see potholes, and that is not considered the safe way to drive. How do you avoid them? Some residents have decided to do their part. They believe the Chicago Department of Transportation is not repairing potholes fast enough, and they have become dangerous.

"You can't walk out there. You walking out there in the street at night, you can fall down and break your arm," said Florida Vaires, concerned Austin resident.

"The city hasn't done anything about the potholes on this block. Members of the community are taking matters into their own hands instead of doing it themselves," said Elce Redmond, South Austin Coalition Community Council.

Angry residents of the South Austin Coalition Community Council, who live in the 4800-block West Van Buren, have decided to take the pothole situation into their own hands and have started repairing potholes themselves. The coalition is supplying the blacktop to fill them and the residents are doing the work.

"I'm proud of these people. These people are trying to get the streets together, because it seems like the city is not doing anything around these type of neighborhoods," said Antoine Noifleet, Austin resident.

"In the last two months on the 4800-block of West Van Buren, we've received just one call about potholes," said Brian Steele, Chicago Department of Transportation.

"We are inundated with potholes, very dangerous potholes," said Redmond.

CDOT does not recommend residents fill the potholes for a number of reasons.

"Safety. We don't want people out on the street among active traffic. Secondly, we don't know what type of material they're using," Steele said.

The big question is who is responsible legally if someone gets hurt or destroys their car on a pothole repaired by a resident.

"That's a very good question, one I don't have an answer to. That's the reason why infrastructure repairs are under the purview and the responsibility of the city," said Steele.

"Are we willing to take responsibility? That's a good question, and one I have to look at in terms of our legal department," Redmond said.

Potholes can be found across the city. ABC7 drove to other blocks in the Austin Community and found potholes then went to the north Side and found too many to count.

Avoiding them can take work and they can destroy your car.

"The city has not received state funding for arterial street resurfacing since 2006. Typically we would do about 30, 40 miles of street resurfacing. We haven't been able to do that the last three years. That's starting to take its toll," said Steele.

Austin residents say they will continue to fill the potholes on their own.

The Chicago Department of Transportation says they are aggressively attacking potholes. They have filled over 300,000 since December 1 and fill close to 5,000 a day. The problem is there are too many.

Officials say the federal stimulus package will help the city resurface over 40 miles of streets, and the state will also provide money for over 100 miles of resurfacing, so help is on the way.


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