Kansas City crews getting high-tech gear to find, fix worst potholes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo — Mayor Quinton Lucas says pothole repair is the topic of most complaints to his office.

The battle against bumps in the road will now include use of high-tech gear used by city workers — small cameras that are already mounted on city garbage trucks. They’re called Rubicon cameras, and according to city leaders, it will cost $300,000 to install them on city pothole trucks.

Filling in those holes is a demanding job, and these extra sets of eyes will be a valuable tool. 

“We have a very strategic and intentional approach to dealing with potholes,” said Michael Shaw, Kansas City Public Works director. ”We understand this is our job. We signed up for this. We try to be very intentional about how we go about doing it.”

As Shaw explained, the cameras collect data and photos concerning the condition of streets. That information is used to direct the city’s 16 pothole crews to the streets in the worst shape. Shaw said the average crew of workers can fill 60 potholes per day, and this far in 2021, his staff has filled more than 45,000 potholes.

“This is going to help us create a technology-based system where we can know exactly which streets are in the worst conditions,” City Manager Brian Platt said.

Lucas said feedback from residents is still needed to keep streets in good shape. That means calls to the city’s 311 service.

People living in the city’s old Northeast, including resident Rony Meyer, said their roads have been a bumpy ride for a long time.

“It’s nice to see some work finally being done down through there. It’s rough on vehicles,” Meyer said. “It’s been bad. Flat tires from some potholes. It’s been pretty bad.”

Platt said he wants to see 100 miles of road resurfaced this year in Kansas City. He and Shaw said the camera will also be useful to identify streets with numerous potholes that would be better serviced with repaving instead of pothole patching.

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