TagThe Chicago Way

The Chicago Way: Potholes that definitely no longer exist

311 report for a pothole

Screenshot of the 311 service tracker that tells me that the photograph I submitted contains no image of potholes.

The Chicago Way is as much about the process as it is about the result. This story involves what happens when you can’t provide accurate information about a street inspection in the tracking system that has been built, effectively making a group of potholes disappear.

I submitted a pothole report via the Chicago open 311 system – assigning it service request #13-00420100 – on April 12, 2013 for 1653 N Milwaukee Avenue near Red Hen Bakery and Athletico. Three days later the inspection found no potholes and the request was closed.

The website or the Chicago 311 system seemingly could not provide a better answer. Certainly dismissing the existence of potholes is the wrong response. There’s no hope for the future in this response. Maybe there’s a plan to resurface this block. This could be the opportunity to inform a concerned citizen. Instead, the response told me I’m wrong.

Fast forward to now and the situation has devolved. Potholes have gotten a little bigger and they’ve spread as if the street is diseased. What also sucks is that this problem will probably persist for at least another year from my report (unit April 2015) because the hot asphalt plants are going to shutdown soon.

This reminds me of that Chicago maxim: “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.” Or Metra, that the trains would be on time if they didn’t have to stop to pick up passengers.

#TheChicagoWay

Potholes on Milwaukee Avenue - I reported them over a year ago

The potholes as of August 2014.

The Chicago Way: The Fullerton sinkhole

the sinkhole before repair

The sinkhole before repair. Image from Smith’s newsletter.

In Alderman Michele Smith’s e-newsletter today is a story about #TheChicagoWay, which is that special way of fixing the streets we embrace in Chicago, despite our apparent disgust for low-quality infrastructure.

“Sometimes we really have to persist to get something fixed.” Here’s the story:

A deep sinkhole had formed at approximately 444 W. Fullerton Parkway, creating a significant public safety concern for both pedestrians and motorists. But no city department would repair it until we determined which agency was responsible.

So we called upon each potential agency, leading to almost a dozen separate site visits by various inspectors between July and August. We finally discovered that this site had been an old Commonwealth Edison utility area. The abandoned vault had deteriorated, resulting in the sinkhole.

I am happy to report that Commonwealth Edison filled in the old vault and restored the street. Success!

I would definitely call a sinkhole fix that happens within three months a success.

How would it work for you and your job security if it took two months to find who’s responsible for a known bug?

Other ways to identify #TheChicagoWay:

  • There is a cone or sawhorse-style barrier INSIDE of a hole. And then you’ll see that thing fall deeper into the hole and a new thing will be added.
  • For bigger holes, there are “safety” barriers INSIDE the hole instead of AHEAD of the hole.
  • How do you identify #TheChicagoWay in the context of streets?
after the sinkhole repair

The sinkhole and pavement after repair. Image from Smith’s newsletter.

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