Meet the 'Pothole Killer'

The new machine fills holes faster and more efficiently, CDOT says

By Stefan Holt
|  Friday, Aug 12, 2011  |  Updated 2:04 PM CDT
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Blizzard 2011: Animals in the Snow

Chicago Sun-Times

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Chicago has leased a new weapon to fight the city's craggy roads. It's called the Pothole Killer, and it's stirring up a bit of controversy.

Following a walloping winter of snow and ice, Chicago was left with about 20,000 more potholes than last year. The new machine, dubbed the Pothole Killer, blasts potholes out of the street, then cleans out the holes, fills them with patching material and seals them -- in less than a minute.

That's a lot quicker than the previous system requiring crews to patch holes with shovels. And it uses less manpower -- one or two members versus the old three- or four-man crew.

The Chicago Department of Transportation leased four of the new machines for about $50,000 a month as part of a pilot program to test the technology.

But some union leaders are upset by the new machine, saying the technology doesn't work. CDOT tested similar trucks back in 2008, they say, and it failed miserably, damaging nearby cars and businesses with blasted asphalt.

A transportation spokesperson says the pothole killers are nothing like the old ones and are currently used in Virginia, Washington D.C. and New Jersey.

CDOT began testing the new Pothole Killer trucks Friday afternoon in the alley on the 4500 block of south Western Avenue.

If the machines work, the city hopes to order more to free up more crews for resurfacing projects, according to CDOT.

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