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Hit a pothole, insert a 4-letter word: Complaints to city are up

Potholes mark the road at Randolph and May streets in Chicago's West Loop. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

The jarring bump. The near automatic reflex toward profanity.

Pothole season is upon us, and there’s been an uptick.

City data shows pothole complaints are up 22 percent compared to December through February of last winter — 16,569 complaints versus 13,605.

February alone saw a 46 percent rise compared to last year — 7,153 versus 4,887.

The city doesn’t track accompanying cussing, but it’s probably fair to assume an above average spike in unrepeatable utterances in recent weeks.

January’s polar vortex was a factor in roadway wear and tear, but the number of pocks and craters left in its wake pales in comparison to the polar vortex that introduced most Chicagoans to the weather phenomenon in January 2014.

During the December through February stretch back in 2014 — which included the infamous cold spell dubbed “Chiberia” —  40,855 pothole complaints were logged. Another 25,419 were registered in March five years ago, city data shows.

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said additional work crews have been dispatched by order of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help address the problem.

Workers responding to a pothole reported to 311 often end up patching as many as 10 others nearby, Claffey said.

A total of 157,976 pot holes had been filled between December and February, up from 146,825 filled over the same period last winter, he said.

Here are some of the major streets slated for repaving so far this year:

·         Sheridan Road from Devon Avenue to Touhy Avenue

·         Broadway from Gunnison Street to Foster Avenue

·         Foster Avenue from East River Road to Harlem Avenue

·         Dearborn Street from Madison Street to Polk Street

·         Kedzie Avenue from Jackson Avenue to Ogden Avenue

·         Austin Boulevard from Lake Street to North Avenue

·         31st Street from Lawndale Avenue to Western Avenue

·         51st Street from Millard Avenue to Kedzie Avenue

·         Lafayette Avenue from Marquette Road to 79th Street

·         119th Street from Ashland Avenue Halsted Street

If your car is damaged by a pothole, you can file a claim for compensation with the city clerk’s office. There’s no guarantee you’ll get any money back, and claims typically take several months to be processed.

Anyone filing a claim will need a copy of a paid receipt for repairs or copies of two written estimates for the cost of repairs, as well as a police report.

A spokeswoman for the city clerk’s office was not available Sunday to say how many claims have been made or paid out this winter.