Chicago adds graffiti-removal crews, trucks

By Leonor VivancoContact Reporter – Chicago Tribune

Chicago has added new graffiti-blasting trucks and crews to remove tagging reported on buildings and garages in neighborhoods in an effort to continue to get rid of graffiti in five days or less.

Eight new trucks, which cost a total of $552,000, use citric acid combined with high-pressure hot water to remove graffiti. Other trucks use baking soda to blast off graffiti from brick or stone and paint to cover up markings on metal and wood. Two trucks were retired, bringing the Streets and Sanitation fleet to 22 trucks, said spokeswoman Sara McGann.

The department shifted employees to its graffiti-removal operation from other tasks to add three new crews to its graffiti-removal program. Every day, 26 to 28 crews — each staffed with one or two employees — work to get rid of tagging, she said.

“It’s really to maintain the five-day-or-less removal time. We want to keep our city beautiful and free from vandalism,” said McGann, who added some new vehicles hit the street for the first time Tuesday. Quick removal helps the city deter vandalism, she said.

Requests made to the city to remove graffiti are down nearly 14 percent so far this year compared with the same period last year. For the first four months of the year, the city completed 33,931 removal requests citywide, down from 39,415 through April 30 last year, according to McGann.

Residents can report graffiti and request its removal by calling 311 or making a report on the city’s website.