Chicagoan Nicolas Benitez was fed up with the asphalt speed bump outside his garage in the alley behind his Brighton Park neighborhood home, which he said damaged his cars’ suspensions and trapped ice and snow in the winter.
So after complaining to his alderman’s office, Benitez got a pickax and set about tearing out the speed bump.
“I did one piece today, another piece tomorrow. Little by little I took it out,” Benitez said.
While some Chicagoans might see his alley vigilantism as a heroic act in a city that often responds to residents’ complaints way slower than they’d like, Benitez is now looking at a $500 ticket for damaging city property, which he says he’ll fight in court.
Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez said he received a photo on Twitter this week showing the gaping hole with the speed bump partially removed. Recognizing Kelly High School in the background of the picture, he went to check it out.
“We found the asphalt neatly piled up outside the garage, apparently waiting for the city to take it away,” Lopez said.
“I asked Mr. Benitez to meet me there, which he did. I know him from the ward, he’s a nice guy. He was very nonchalant, told us ‘Yeah, I took it out. I didn’t want to wait,’” Lopez said.
“But that’s not how this works,” Lopez added. “I had already told him that if he had a problem with the bump right outside his garage, we could look for menu money to see if we have the funds to remove it. Unfortunately, by the summer months that money is already spoken for.”
Menu money is an allotment of funds aldermen get for projects in their wards.
Speed bumps are typically voted on by neighbors who then petition the alderman to put them in. Benitez might also be on the hook for the cost of replacing the asphalt he ripped out, Lopez said.