CHICAGO (CBS) – Potholes are beginning to show up on Chicago streets. But the pothole forecast may not be as gloomy as it’s been in the past. CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports on why this could be a better year for drivers.

State and federal money has helped improve the roads. And even though potholes are still bound to crop up, those improvements may save a lot of hubcaps this year.

“See pothole: will conquer.” That seems to be the motto of the Illinois Department of Transportation so far this winter.

Even though the first freeze-thaw cycle just ended, crews are out filling those pesky and potentially dangerous ruts as fast as they can.

“We haven’t gotten a large number of complaints about potholes, so nothing strikes me as being predominant,” said IDOT spokesman Carmen Iacullo.

That’s good news for drivers right now. And Iacullo says, Mother Nature aside, that could last.

He says this winter should be easier on the tires than winters past, and credits massive resurfacing of state roads, like Route 53, as a pothole stop gap.

“We’ve spent over $450 million in resurfacing programs. So the roads that have been done in the last two years, we shouldn’t experience any sort of potholes,” said Iacullo.

City crews are hoping for the same, after repaving over 700 blocks recently.

“I can tell you with certainty we will not see a return to the numbers that we saw in ’07, ’08 and ’08, ’09,” said Brian Steele with the Chicago Dept. of Transportation.

Back then, hubcaps by the dozens littered street shoulders across the city. And it took months for crews to get a handle on the problem.

Despite the current optimism, Steele says pothole patching is still a priority.

“We very much try to stay on top of it,” said Steele.

The weather will, of course, ultimately dictate the severity of potholes this season. And we’ve got a long season ahead of us.

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