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A new tool in the fight against pothole-pallooza

Traffic passes a pothole Friday at the corner of North Broadway and East Michigan streets in Milwaukee. The Chicago Department of Transportation has leased four trucks, called Pothole Killers, at a cost of $50,000 a month. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

By Joe Yovino

I’ve worked in both Chicago and Milwaukee now, and winters in both are really no different (except you can actually ride a train from the suburbs to one of them).

Winters are killer on streets and both cities have a resulting common denominator: potholes.

But Chicago is getting a new weapon to fight the city’s ongoing battle with the gaping holes. It’s called the Pothole Killer, and it can fill a hole in 60 seconds with a much smaller crew.

The Chicago Department of Transportation has leased four trucks at a cost of $50,000 a month. A small price to pay for a smooth ride.

The new machine blasts potholes out of the street, then cleans out the holes, fills them with patching material and seals them — in less than a minute, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Just think, no more three- and four-man crews armed with a dump truck, shovels and a prayer.

Chicago has about 20,000 more potholes now than last year, but it’s also filled 20,000 more potholes already this year than in all of 2010. Since Jan. 1, CDOT crews have filled 450,000 potholes.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, had 4,405 potholes from Dec. 1, 2010 to March, 31, 2011, an increase of 1,899 over the previous time period, according to Cecilia Gilbert in the city’s Department of Public Works.

DPW’s Infrastructure Services Division has been using a similar vehicle to the Pothole Killer for the past 7 or 8 years. The so-called Road Patchers perform the same as the Pothole Killer.

For the rest of Wisconsin, the new machine would free up crews to do street paving work instead of pothole patrol.

And everybody drives home happy.

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. He’s trying to think of a better name than “Pothole Killer.”

One comment

  1. These machines are not new. Madison has been using these for some time now, and you’ll find them in use around the state in one form or another. Just as with any tool, they have limitiations, and believe it or not, there is a need for crews of workers to fix a vatriety of pavement problems that can’t be solved by the tool you have stumbled upon.

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