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Emanuel adds 22 miles of arterial streets to resurfacing plan

Instead of fighting a losing battle against potholes, Chicago will resurface 22 more miles of arterial streets, thanks to $14 million from the state, $8 million from tax-increment-financing (TIF) and funding pooled from aldermanic menu money.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered Thursday on his promise of a “more robust” repaving program in response to the blizzard of pothole complaints and claims of vehicle damage caused by a relentless barrage of snow, cold and wild temperature swings that has turned city streets into the surface of the moon.

“This was a winter for the record books. My goal is to have a paving season for the record books to match it,” the mayor said during a news conference Thursday at a vehicle maintenance facility at 5215 S. Western Ave.

“A newly paved road is less likely to have the type of pothole damage that you see from an older road. So, I’d rather build new roads, pave new roads than just repair the past. Better drive, better commute. It’s better.”

Instead of repaving 63 miles of arterial streets, Chicago will resurface 85 miles at a cost of roughly $1 million-per-mile.

The State of Illinois will contribute an additional $14 million. The remaining $8 million will come from “selected” TIF districts, undisclosed “corporate fund savings” and from a $66 million-a-year program that allows Chicago aldermen to choose from a menu of neighborhood improvements.

With an eye on the mayoral election less than a year away, Emanuel has issued a conveyor belt of press releases about the pothole epidemic that infuriates motorists.

He started crews early, added six more weekend crews and ordered the Chicago Department of Transportation to assign all 30 of its pothole crews to main streets on Mondays and Fridays to address scores of potholes in blitzkrieg fashion using a grid system.

Now, he’s delivered on the repaving portion of his promise. As Emanuel told his staff Thursday, their work has just begun.

“I continue to ask them to find additional resources throughout the year. I want them to look behind the couch. If there’s a quarter, grab it. Behind the sofa? Underneath the pillows? Grab it. Because we’re gonna put more and more resources towards paving our roads, filling our potholes and making sure our streets are passable for the residents and commuters of Chicago,” he said.