Fewer Potholes So Far This Season, But Worst Is Yet to Come

By Quinn Ford on March 2, 2013 8:10am 

CHICAGO — 'Tis the season to fill potholes.

That's according to officials at the Chicago Department of Transportation, who say March is generally the month the department gets the most requests to fix potholes around the city.

But this year, Chicago is on pace to have the least severe pothole season in at least four years, according to the CDOT numbers. 

For the 2012-2013 "pothole season," which started in November, CDOT has received 13,043 customer service requests from city residents and has filled 143,474 potholes. Last season, the department received 24,066 requests and filled 239,730 potholes. If March numbers this season are close to the average, this winter could be the least severe in at least four years.

See a map of pothole repair requests in Chicago

Peter Scales, a spokesperson for CDOT, said the number of potholes this year have probably declined for a couple reasons, namely the weather.

"For a long time we didn't have a lot of moisture [this winter], and we didn't have that sort of freezing and thawing that always leads to potholes," Scales said. "When water gets into the asphalt, it expands and contracts with the temperature, and then when cars go over it breaks it up."

Scales said CDOT has also repaved more city streets this year than in previous years, targeting the worst streets that already had a number of potholes.

Scales said the department estimates it costs the city about $12 to fix a pothole. At that price, the city has already spent $1.7 million fixing potholes this year. Scales also said CDOT does not fix one pothole at a time.

"If you call to fix a pothole in front of your house, we're going to visit that block and take care of all the potholes on that block," Scales said. "We fill a heck of a lot more potholes than we get calls for."

City residents who want to report a pothole on their block can do so on the city's website.

Still, despite the mild season so far, Scales said he is expecting to see an upshot now that snowfall has increased.

"I'm sure we're going to see, like we do pretty much every March, an influx in potholes popping up," Scales said.

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