Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pothole Patrol

Yesterday a friend hit a pothole in Hanover Park, bending the rim and flattening the tire on his car. Cost of repairs? Nothing definite yet. A new wheel could be $500 (to match the other three custom 17" aluminum wheels) plus $150 for the tire plus balancing and alignment, plus two trips to the tire shop and one to the alignment place. Easily, $1,000 down the drain.

And he was one of five cars stopped with flat tires from the pothole on Lake Street (U.S. 20).

He filed a police report and will file a claim with IDOT.

If your car is damaged on a State-maintained road, contact IDOT for a claim form. Search for "Illinois DOT" or go to http://www.dot.state.il.us/

Under General Info (far right tab), click on IDOT Claims Procedures. There is no Claim Form on the website (that would be too easy). You have to telephone the IDOT District where the pothole damaged your car and order a claim form to be mailed to you.

Then follow the steps. Be sure to disregard the part that says your claim will only be good if IDOT knew about the pothole before you hit it. I'm still laughing over that one.

IDOT should know about every pothole on its roadways. Its own employees should report them, not just drive through them. So should the police, deputies, firefighters, ambulance drivers and every other government employee. And YOU can make a difference by reporting potholes, too.

I recall trying to get the City of McHenry to place cones or barricades on U.S. 31 where a paving contractor had left an unmarked sharp change in elevation from the scraped roadway to the old, higher surface. I hit it at the speed limit one night and thought I had busted something under my car.

The McHenry PD insisted that it could not place a barricade on a State highway. Dumbest thing I've ever heard of. When there is a hazard on the road, the local jurisdiction should identify it and warn drivers. It took three days for IDOT to wring the contractor's neck and make him place barricades around the raised manhole covers and other sharp elevation changes.

How many cars do you suppose were damaged during those three days.

I tried to find someone at IDOT to talk to about an online reporting system. One person told me there already was one, on either www.illinois.gov or the IDOT website. He must have a better computer than I do, because I haven't been able to find it.

If anyone knows where that webform is, please let me know.

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