Kiss My Asphalt, City Hall

Group takes pothole problem into their own hands

Sometimes, when you want something done, you just have to do it yourself.

Robbed of their chance to work out some anger in a good 'ole neighborhood protest Monday when Chicago Department of Transportation crews interrupted them, a group of Southwest Side residents have taken matters into their own hands -- literally.

The South Austin Coalition Community Council gathered at the source of their ire Wednesday -- the huge potholes that have made driving down Garfield Boulevard and neighboring streets a dangerous journey.

Members of the SACCC recruited the "chronic unemployed" in the area to pick up rakes and shovels in an effort to demonstrate to the city that even in less affluent neighborhoods, the potholes must be filled.

In what the group is calling a "pothole campaign," they began filling the craters around Sherman Park on their own.

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While CDOT said the timing was coincidental, earlier in the week a planned protest in the area was sidelined when crews arrived and began filling some of the potholes along 1.5 miles of Garfield Avenue, including the area where several protestors had assembled.

"It looks like they didn't want us to make the news or let folks know about the potholes," Denise Dixon, executive director of the community group Action Now, told the Tribune at the time.

"The problem is so large," CDOT spokeperson Brian Steel said, "it does take us time to get to certain locations."

He said the department has a couple of concerns about today's "hands on" approach: first, safety.

"We don't want people working in the street," he said.

He said there is also concern about the materials the residents are using.

"Sometimes, if you don't use the right materials, you could cause further problems."

But long-time resident Ernest Roberts, who joined the group filling potholes, said, "I'm just trying to make it convenient to drive down the streets." 

Roberts said driving in the neighborhood is like crossing railroad tracks.

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