GAGE PARK — The brutal winter requires a street-paving project to match it and to fill the potholes left behind, the mayor said Thursday in outlining an ambitious plan to resurface city streets.
"This was a winter for the record books," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a news conference at a Department of Streets and Sanitation garage in Gage Park. "My goal is to have a paving season for the record books to match it."
The mayor on Thursday added 22 miles of main streets to planned paving to be done this year, making a total of 333 miles of road to be resurfaced. Added funding, he said, came in the form of $14 million from the state and $8 million from Tax Increment Finance district funds and other city savings.
According to the mayor, the 333 miles nearly doubled the 175 miles repaved his first year in office, 2011, and would add up to more than 1,000 miles resurfaced under his administration, almost a quarter of the city's 4,600 miles of road. He said newly paved streets were the best prevention for potholes, adding, "I'd rather build new roads, pave new roads than just repair the past."
Emanuel said the winter "wreaked havoc on the streets of Chicago" and added another in a series of comments to Mother Nature, saying: "Message received. Now could you please leave so we can get back to work."
The mayor said streets would be paved by the the Department of Transportation, Water Management as it replaces underground pipes and private contractors doing road work for utilities. He touted the additional funding from the state and from aldermen, pledging, "Our budget will be balanced and our roads will be paved and our potholes will be filled."
Potholes, he re-emphasized, were a primary reason for expanding the pavement program.
Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said the city had already filled 250,000 potholes this year, with an expanded "strike team" pothole program announced earlier this week continuing.
"As they say, there are two seasons in Chicago," said Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th), who played host to the news conference in her ward. "With the end of winter, we are excited to kick off construction season."