Northland road plagued by potholes gets resurfaced, but long-term repairs will cost millions

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City’s potholes were so bad this year some people hosted birthday parties for them. But few roads got more complaints than N.W. 68th Street in the Northland.

The road now has a new look, but neighbors are left wondering how long it will last.

That’s because by the city’s own admission this resurfacing is only temporary, and much bigger problems lie below the road’s surface.

Jean Utter has lived just off N.W. 68th Street for 60 years, so long that she remembers when it was Old Salt Rock Road and the city used to ask her to pay for new rocks for the gravel road each year.

But she said she’d take the gravel road over N.W. 68th’s condition this past winter.

“I’ve never seen it as bad as it has been this past year.”

Utter suffered two tire blow outs on the road. FOX4 talked to drivers in February who were doing their best to avoid the same, often driving in the center lane to avoid constant potholes at almost every road joint for more than a mile between Highway 169 and Waukomis.

“We were trying to keep it patched and then realized we needed to mill and resurface,” said Maggie Green, Kansas City Public Works spokeswoman.

Unlike most projects, which are contracted out, due to time and budget constraints the city rented a machine for $35,000 and did it themselves.

But they discovered deeper failures in the road far below the surface — the kind that can’t just be smoothed over.

“When your car is doing this (bouncing motion) constantly going down the road, that’s not right because all these potholes are just going to settle and they are going to get worse,” a N.W. 68th Street resident named Jenny said.

“It’s a little better, but it’s not like it should be,” Utter said.

The city sealed cracks last week trying to keep moisture from getting into the road causing more potholes. Weather could affect the timeline, but the city doesn’t project their most recent fix will last much more than two years.

In the meantime they’ll be trying to come up with an estimated $12 million for permanent repairs.

“We don’t know right now where the source of the funding is going to be, but it’s a priority for us to get that roadway fully reconstructed,” Green said.

About 17,000 potholes were reported via the city’s 311 action line last winter. An estimated 80,000 have been filled including the ones Public Works employees found on their own. They are down to about 700 left to patch.

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