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Cars pass on South Wyckles Road as road maintenance workers Rick Cook, left, and Ed Moore work there last month. 

Not long ago, as snow plows pushed mounds of snow to the edges of parking lots and along city streets, one wag proposed this:

Why not push the snow into the potholes? Nothing else seems to fill them.

A tongue-in-cheek proposal, perhaps, for an annual problem that seems never to be solved, or solved well enough.

Welcome to pothole season in Illinois, where tires go flat, rims and attitudes get bent and teeth are rattled in our heads.

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Truth be told, potholes are just part of living in an area of the country with temperature swings. Concrete and asphalt freeze and thaw and buckle and heave in heat. Eventually they break or crack enough to warrant a patch, which goes through the same cycle. The patches sometimes are scraped off accidentally, reopening the pothole like a sticky bandage reopens a wound. The worst areas are seams between lanes and near manhole covers, or other places where the surface already has been breached.

Think of it as an earthquake fault, because the heaving eruption will occur where two plates meet.

The only fix, really, is to mill down the street as far as possible, and lay a wide ribbon of new asphalt or concrete. And because responsibility for roads and streets differs (some are state, some are local, some are county or township), the government body in charge may or may not have the money or resources to keep up with the Joneses.

Streets and roads can't always be fixed when we want them to be. The stronger-than-usual winter -- with deep snows forcing multiple trips for plows, plunging temperatures, days of rain, last month's 80-degree temperature swing -- along with society's penchant for bigger and heavier vehicles, have played havoc with our road surfaces.

When you have responsibility for hundreds of miles of road, you have to balance the need to fix the potholes with the reality that you may have money only to do it once.

Until then, we have to buckle up, tighten the helmets and put in our mouthguards.

In Decatur, you can report potholes by calling (217) 875-4879 or messaging the city at

On state routes, motorists may report potholes at or by calling 1-800-452-4368 (IDOT).

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