Even though road crews might have just started repairs a couple weeks ago, and winter weather events might not be done for this season, some local public works directors say this season won’t be as troublesome with pothole repairs as last year.
“We’re just starting to get into (repairs), but I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as last year,” Independence Assistant Public Works Director Rick Arroyo said late last month. “We didn’t have as many storms, and we’ve been using salt more selectively.
“We do still have a lot of seams (in the pavement, often near lane lines),” he said. “Salt gets in there, and those areas are starting to be as problematic.
“We’ve had a couple events where we thought we would have to do some storm removal, that pretreatment stayed for a couple events, so it was good that it snowed because it gets it off the street.”
From Jan. 1 through Monday, Independence crews had repaired 2,380 potholes, compared to nearly 2,900 through the same timespan last year and 2,200 in 2018. In addition to a milder winter, Arroyo said his crews did plenty of deep patch repairs last spring, anticipating some potential issues again this year.
Chris Sandie, the public works director in Blue Springs, classified this repair stint as “not terrible, by virtue of the fact we didn’t have as much moisture with a freeze/thaw cycle.”
Through February, Sandie said his department had made more than 1,500 pothole repairs this season.
“Usually it’s triple that if we have a bad season – like last year,” he said. “If we get a good rain that washes salt off the road (like Monday), then we could begin crack sealing.”
Last year, when more than a dozen winter storms hit the area and the freeze/thaw cycle didn’t seem to end, road crews started to scurry around for pothole repairs before January ended. High demand and lack of warm enough weather led to some shortage of hot-mix asphalt, and crews often had to use cold-mix asphalt for patches they knew wouldn’t hold up as long.
“We were able to get some hot asphalt this year and do a better repair,” Arroyo said, “and we’re able to go back and get some that didn’t get a good repair last year.”
“We’ve just had our typical potholes that pop up,” Sandie said last week. “We’d been using the cold mix so far, but since then the weather’s broken up a bit and we’ve gone out and made some permanent fixes.”
In addition, the money that would have gone toward replenishing salt supplies instead goes to crack sealing and other various maintenance projects that can’t happen when winter storms pass through. Sandie said that trade-off is common among public works departments.
“It’s kind of like a teeter totter,” he said. “The more snow days you have, the less operable work days you have.
Independence residents can report potholes by calling the pothole hotline at 816-325-7624 or by going to the city's website at www.ci.independence.mo.us and clicking “Action Center.”
Blue Springs residents can call the 24-hour hotline for potholes (816-228-0291) or leave a message at the operations center (816-228-0195). In both cities, they don’t fill potholes on state and U.S. roads that MoDOT maintains.
Sandie said citizen pothole reports can be helpful for streets not widely used.
“Unfortunately there’s not a little red light that pops up for each pothole,” he said. “Sometimes we do a little search-and-destroy when we’re in a neighborhood.”
For MoDOT roads – highways, bridges and overpasses – call 1-888-ASK-MoDOT to report potholes, or use the department's website (www.modot.org), Twitter handle (modot_kc) or Facebook page (MoDOT.KansasCity).