LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. – Drivers on eastbound Interstate 470 should buckle up.
Construction crews from the Missouri Department of Transportation are working as efficiently as possible to restore traffic flow on that important highway. However, MoDOT engineers say it’s going to take time.
The eastbound side of I-470 takes drivers from the immediate Kansas City area to Raytown, Lee’s Summit, south Kansas City and Blue Springs. MoDOT says it’s used by 60-80,000 cars each day.
Drivers found themselves in a standstill on Tuesday, as repair crews worked two major projects between View High Drive and Raytown Road.
A crew of contractors worked for hours on a series of large potholes, some of which, according to MoDOT, have caused recent damage to cars. Jacob Wilson, an engineer with MoDOT, describes the damage as a structural failure rather than a traditional pothole, which is caused when water seeps into the pavement, and then, causes the ground to split when cold weather turns warmer.
“You have to be patient. Construction takes time,” Wilson told FOX4 on Tuesday.
“For someone who's not anticipating costs on their way to work, or wherever they're going today, and they hit one of those, it's definitely something we don't want the general public to go through,” he said.
Photos given to FOX4 News by MoDOT show the holes to be long strips of exposed road. In the three pictures, seen in the video above, gravel from under the pavement is exposed and repair crews are working to renew the surface with heavy equipment.
In the meantime, commuters were merged into only one lane of traffic. I-470, which is usually a three-lane thoroughfare, was already down to only two lanes to make space for work on the bridge that sits near the Highway 50 interchange.
The congestion kept impatient drivers from moving faster than a snail’s pace.
Potholes are common in the months leading out of cold weather and into the springtime. Wilson, who has worked as an engineer for 10 years, said road crews traditionally do road repairs during the evening hours while traffic is less congested. However, the cold overnights the Kansas City metro has been experiencing is keeping them from doing that.
The pothole repairs should be finished by the end of Tuesday. But the bridge repairs, which are underway only a few feet from the pothole work, will last until late May, according to MoDOT spokesperson Markl Johnson. Work involved in that project is also causing traffic concerns for thousands of drivers each day.
“It’s terrible,” Phil Webber, a Blue Springs resident who often takes this highway, told FOX4 . “I probably sat right there at Blue Ridge Cutoff for 20 minutes, maybe 30.”
“Don't take 470,” another driver said, minutes after escaping a long line of cars.
Wilson said he sympathizes with frustrated drivers since he has to sit in traffic sometimes, too. MoDOT engineers asked FOX4 to remind everyone to hang up their phones when they're in construction areas, since distracted driving can make even bigger problems.
Wilson said once those construction workers finish the current bridge project, they’re scheduled to work on another section of I-470, which could cause traffic delays in a different location.
MoDOT crews are currently involved in dozens of projects around the Kansas City metro, including repairs on the Manchester Bridge. Wilson said the need for repairs on that bridge comes from a recent car crash, rather than weather-related concerns.
Johnson said motorists whose cars have been damaged by highway potholes can submit their requests for assistance by using this electronic form. Johnson said MoDOT cannot accept responsibility for all pothole-based accidents, but the agency will review all requests.