Driving Yourself into a (BUMP) Hole

Dramatic temp fluctuations have brought out the worst potholes

Winter potholes are nothing new to Chicago drivers, but that doesn't make them any less of a headache. And that headache is coming even earlier this season.

"It's a little bit earlier than usual for potholes," Marisa Kollias, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Transportation, told the Sun-Times. "Normally, we're talking about early to mid-January."

This winter's incredible temperature fluctuations are to blame. Just this past week, Chicagoans experienced mid-40s, then sub-freezing temps, and then all the way up to 60s by the end of the week. All that back-and-forth action along the thermometer is the perfect recipe for potholes.

Consequently, pothole complaints have increased.

"In the days before Christmas, the number of potholes reported to the 311 system was between 300 to 400 each day.  (Monday) morning, the number has risen to 1,100," Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Tom Byrne said.

"We've received about 900 more pothole requests for December compared to December 2007," 311 director Phillip Hampton added.

Lou Phillips with Laborers Union Local 1001 said CDOT crews are working seven days a week in four day shifts to get the holes filled without having to pay overtime, which would bring the department out of budget.

However, considering pothole season has just started, perhaps the worst is yet to come.

Motorists are encouraged to call 311 to report potholes on area roads and 800-432-IDOT (or http://www.gettingaroundillinois.com/) to alert officials to expressway problems.

Send your pictures of offending potholes to isee@nbcchicago.com.

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