By Erick Johnson
Watch out! Swerve to the left. Move to the right. For many drivers on the South Side, traveling on crumbling roads can be a treacherous journey. There are potholes everywhere. In intersections, streets and alleys.
For two weeks, a Chicago Crusader journalist hit the road and found 44 potholes in Woodlawn and Englewood. The Crusader has learned so far that the two neighborhoods have the most potholes among neighborhoods on the South Side. With plans to inspect more roads in other neighborhoods, the Crusader’s discovery is only the beginning.
Woodlawn’s west neighborhoods alone had 36 potholes. Three of them appear to be developing sinkholes. Orange cones are placed in two of the holes located next to the Emmett Till Math and Science Academy at Marquette Road and Champlain. The other hole is located at the intersection of 64th and Vernon. A safety stand sits inside to prevent pedestrians and drivers from running over it.
Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) in the last several weeks has been calling for residents to report potholes as they step up efforts to repair them before the winter season.
Englewood’s roads overall are in better shape, but two large and growing potholes sit on the north end of 66th Street and Hartwell.
Because of their potential to grow over time, the three sinkholes appear to be urgent in nature. With winter around the corner, the holes remain a problem for motorists who often swerve to avoid damaging their tires.
On the city’s website, CDOT says it has inspectors in neighborhoods across the city and construction crews assigned to repair potholes throughout the year. Because most potholes occur during the winter and spring, CDOT schedules crews to work every day, including weekends during ‘pothole season’.
With so many potholes, questions remain as to whether CDOT’s inspectors are actually working in South Side neighborhoods.
The Crusader inspected the roads as part of a community effort to evaluate CDOT’s services in struggling communities on the South and West Side.
The Crusader received many service tickets after it reported the potholes to the city’s special 311 mobile app on Monday, October 7. The app allows one to track requests until the potholes are filled. According to the app, each request would take seven days to fulfill. However, a separate pothole request made on September 16 was finally completed nearly three weeks later on Friday, October 4.
Residents whose tires were damaged or destroyed by potholes can file a claim by going to the city clerk’s website to download the form. In typical Chicago fashion one must print out the form and mail it in – no online filing allowed.
When compiling a claim packet, make sure to include the completed and signed claim form, a copy of the paid receipt for the repairs, and a copy of a police report for the incident.
Residents who do not have the app can call 311 to report potholes, but the Crusader on several occasions was forced to leave a call back number because the line was so busy. On every occasion, the newspaper never received a call back as promised.
The Crusader will track the progress in its print and digital editions. The Crusader also informed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Press Office of the potholes and placed two calls with Alderman Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward).
Taylor had not responded as of press time.