‘Somebody’s going to die’: Drivers want MoDOT to fix ‘scary’ stretch of I-49 near Grandview

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GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- When it rains, it pours. And when it pours, a certain stretch of Interstate 49 gets downright dangerous, according to some drivers.

Michelle Mellinger and Emily Dattoma don’t know each other, but they share the same anxiety when driving in the rain on I-49, between 140th Street and Highway 150, near Grandview.

“They need to fix it, or someone could get seriously injured or die,” Mellinger said. “It scares me every time.”

“I can’t be on it,” Dattoma added. “It makes me so nervous.”

In August 2018, Mellinger was driving north on I-49 when she hit a patch of water and her car started hydroplaning, which occurs when a vehicle’s tire losses traction on a wet surface.

“When I pulled over, you could visibly see a lot of water standing on the road, and you don’t see it when you’re driving,” Mellinger said.

The back end of Mellinger’s car was damaged, and she suffered minor bruises.

Seventeen-year-old Dattoma found herself in the same situation last month, suffering minor bruises as well. It scared the high school senior so much that she now drives 15 minutes out her way when it’s raining -- just to avoid the stretch of highway.

“We’ve had some pretty bad weather lately, rain and just knowing that I have to drive on that road every single day, it scares me,” she said.

According to data gathered by Grandview police, there were a total of 58 crashes reported between the areas of I-49 and Highway 150, from June 2018 until June 1. Kansas City police responded to four others during the same time period.

Mellinger said her family has been calling the Missouri Department of Transportation about the problem for a couple of months, but they haven’t gotten any clear answers or seen improvements.

“They should know how to fix that,” she said. “That’s sort of what they’re supposed to be doing.”

FOX4’s Zac Summers took their concerns to MoDOT on Monday and talked with Susan Barry, the assistant district engineer for the department. Barry acknowledged the department received a couple of reports about the problem, but not enough to raise red flags.

She said the standing water could be related to clogged drains. Video taken Monday of the drains in the area appeared to show they were clogged.

“I know that we did an in-depth drain cleaning last fall,” Barry said. "But again, debris is constantly getting in those drains, so we just try to keep up with it.”

She indicated that MoDOT would look further into the issue to see if there’s more they can do prevent water from building up on the highway.

“We’re going to look at how the water drains, how much room it has to drain, how heavy of a rainfall it takes for the water to get out into the pavement and if there’s something that’s causing the drains from working correctly,” she said.

It’s a start for Mellinger and Dattoma, who said they don’t want to see other drivers hurt.

“I know that I have to go slow and be very cautious, but not everyone knows that,” Mellinger said.

If you ever see a hazardous problem on the highway, weather-related or not, call 888-ASK-MoDOT.

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