City steps up pothole patching

April 9, 2009 (CHICAGO) The city is changing its strategy to smooth those bumpy roads.

Some drivers are so fed up with the problem they've started filling the holes themselves.

Anyone who has driven any distance on city roads lately has likely had to deal with them. Potholes are a rite of spring in Chicago. But some believe the problem is worse than ever this year. That's why the city plans to beef up their efforts.

It may look like the surface of the moon. But the pock-marked terrain is on the near West Side, Lake Street to be exact. A little farther West on Jackson ABC7 found a pothole about ankle deep and another that gave bus riders quite a jolt.

City officials say they've gotten calls about more than 13,000 potholes that still need patching.

Jim Dick hit one of them and had to spend about $800 for a new tire and rim.

"All of a sudden there was the pothole, hit it and blew the tire and as it turned out, it damaged the rim," said Dick.

The city says it's patched some 300,000 potholes since December. But residents say they clearly still have a lot of work to do.

"I think they have to really come up with a better system on this, sort of like street cleaning. Just do every single block and you don't wait for people to call in," said Bob Vondrasek, South Austin Coalition.

Members of the South Austin Coalition took matters into their own hands on Wednesday, patching some of the holes themselves. The city frowns on that. Instead, they are announcing a new plan to increase the number of crews on the streets and speed up the patchwork.

"We're working seven days a week. We're working with the unions, they gave us straight time and so that's tremendous. I mean, potholes are huge. You have a lot of cold weather, a lot of salt down and they're popping up and you still fill them," said Daley.

The mayor is hoping to get most of the repairs done within the next four weeks. That's too late for some.

"We intend to file a claim. I'm an old Chicago resident. I'm not very optimistic," said Dick.

The city's plan specifically calls for crews to double up in high density areas. They'll attack the streets on a grid system. The unions have also agreed to work 10-hour shifts four days a week. That includes weekends and overnights without overtime.

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