BLOOMINGTON — When it comes to potholes, everyone seemingly has a story, a joke, or if nothing else, at least a comment.
“Welcome to Illinois, the pothole capital of America,” said Laura Stewart of Bloomington on a social media page.
Rick Sullivan, owner of Kathy’s Collision in Clinton, said his tow truck responded one night earlier this week to two disabled vehicles, the victims of hard-to-see potholes near Clinton that flattened tires and destroyed rims.
Another Clinton resident, Rachael Hennessey, reported she was stopped by police on her way to work earlier this week.
“The officer thought I was drunk,” she said. “Actually, I was just dodging potholes.”
Potholes also have been the main subject of conversation in public works departments throughout Illinois, although few are making jokes about them. In Bloomington and Normal, workers have been diverted from other public works tasks to supplement street crews dealing with a wave of public complaints.
“I hate potholes more than anybody,” said Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch. “But this is Illinois and this is the time of the year when we see a lot of pothole issues.”
The city has dedicated all nonemergency street and sewer employees to assist with pothole repair, he said. On Thursday morning, the city had received nearly 100 pothole repair requests through phone messages, the MyBloomington app and emails.
“We have six crews out and we are going to be working some overtime to try and get a handle on it,” he added. “We are continuing to work every major street and fill in the ones that are reported by the public.”
Normal, also, has directed its sewer workers to pothole duty.
“We have eight crews out, working as fast and as hard as they can on potholes,” said Wayne Aldrich, director of public works for Normal. “Everyone on our streets department is out and we recruited some from the sewer department to help out. We’re working extended hours and everything we can do to fill as many as we can.”
Weather is a factor this time of year as temperatures swing from above to below freezing and precipitation can range from snow to sleet and/or heavy rain — and sometimes all happen on the same day.
“It’s typical to have problems like this in Illinois,” Aldrich said. “If you have a lot of temperature variation, you are going to have a lot of pothole issues.”
In the past week, 2 to 4 inches of rain have fallen throughout most of Central Illinois, and more is expected early Friday morning, Friday night and most of Saturday.
“If it would stop raining, we could probably get caught up,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich said the Town is applying a “cold patch” to potholes, but it is only a temporary fix. Facilities that manufacture asphalt usually open in late March or early April when warmer temperatures allow for transfer of the asphalt from factories.
Aldrich also reminded motorists to be careful when spotting potholes and, more importantly, when driving near crews who are fixing the potholes.
“They are out there filling holes by hand and we encourage everyone to be careful around them,” he said.
In Bloomington, you can report potholes with the MyBloomington app on your phone or tablet, by calling the pothole hot line at 309-434-BUMP (2867) or by emailing email@example.com.
In Normal, motorists can report potholes by calling 309-454-9571 or by visiting the town's website, Normal.org.
On state routes, Motorists may report potholes on state highways online or by calling 1-800-452-4368 (IDOT).