Snow, ice and potholes keep local motorist assistance workers busy this winter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The ice and snow have been leading to lots of slide-offs and crashes.

KCPD responded to more than 300 crashes since last night when the freezing drizzle started. That's compared to a more "normal" 79 crashes in the entire day before.

That, coupled with the horrendous pothole problems puncturing tires all across the metro, are creating a one-two punch that's keeping tow companies, AAA and MoDOT's emergency response teams on their toes.

From the moment Hector Ortiz hops in his MoDOT truck, he's off and running. And this winter has been relentless for MoDOT and its emergency response operators.

"With all the calls coming in, all the ice, the snow and the potholes, everything seems to be going against us. But we seem to be battling on, on this never-ending battle here," Ortiz said.

Every time a winter storm hits, emergency response teams are handling slide-offs and crashes. That's on top of relentless tire pops from potholes on highways around the region.

"There's been several that are a huge issue, so those are becoming our priorities," Ortiz said.

Those big potholes get turned over to maintenance teams to come fill them up.

Ortiz also patrols a designated area looking for other drivers that might need his help.

One driver he spotted on the side of the road Wednesday indicated their engine died and they were waiting on a tow.

After checking on them, it was back on the road, and Ortiz also stopped to pick up road debris. And he provided traffic control to safely block a tow truck driver on the side of Interstate 35.

With all those duties and requests still coming on the radio, it can take a while to answer all those calls.

"Sometimes it can be an hour or two. Sometimes it can be 10 or 15 minutes. Just no telling with the weather we're having and the situation that they're in," Ortiz said.

So Ortiz asks drivers to practice a little patience. And after arriving, he knows they're grateful for a little gas, a tire change or delivering whatever help they need.

"That's what this job is all about. We help calm them down and put a smile on their face by the time we're done helping them out on the side of the road," Ortiz said.

As always, all motorist assistance crews -- whether it's tow trucks, or state emergency response teams -- ask you take it slow and move over when you see them out working to help keep them and other drivers safe.

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