KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The sound of rolling metal on cracking pavement has echoed through Kansas City for months. And it will continue, as long as the potholes continue to pop up. And they will continue to pop up as long as the freeze-thaw cycle continues.
And it seems that for every pothole in the city, there’s a story to go with it.
“It could’ve been a whole house in that pothole, that’s how big it was,” Corey Jordan said.
Caitlin White was two pumps over. “You see the pothole coming up, you can’t slow down. You slam on your breaks, hoping no one behind you will hit you. And then you hit that pothole, hard.”
Paul Blank had his truck filled with ladders. He had encountered a pothole before he pulled into the gas station.
“There’s a lot of them out there. And a lot of them need to be fixed.”
Anyone behind a steering wheel in the metro area has spent the first part of 2019 avoiding potholes like the plague.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” White said. “Because you almost can’t avoid it anymore.”
Perpetual potholes pepper the metro.
“You just hope your tire don’t explode on anybody,” Jordan said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
And these days, it’s not just the rubber meeting the road, it’s the axle, or undercarriage. “I actually hit a pothole so hard that it turned my Check Engine light off,” White said, noting how hard it was to ever get a Check Engine Light off. “So that was a little rough on the car. It kind of terrified me.”
But transportation officials say the pothole patching is underway, weather permitting. Laurie Arellano with KDOT said the state has used 55 percent more pothole patching materials from October 2018 to present than in the same time frame a year ago.
“We don’t keep track of how many pot holes we fix. Is gazillion a number? Because I feel like we’ve fixed gazillion.”
Arellano said eight-person crews spend eight hours a day on close to 1,000 lane miles on the interstates on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro. She said it usually takes crews at least 24 hours to get to a new pothole.
“I-35 is bad because it’s an older pavement, and it gets worse every time we have a cold snap,” Arellano said.
Then, she added, every time a plow goes over the patch, the metal blade rips up the patch.
“Once the freeze-thaw cycle finishes, which will be hopefully in April then we can address it better.”
“There’s nothing you can do about it until the weather clears,” Jordan said. “You got to be patient and avoid them the best you can.”
Some drivers want faster solutions.
“They say because of the ground, because of the snow and all that, but I don’t know,” Blank said. “They need to fix it. That’s what we pay our taxes for.”
“I understand that there’s something maybe more important, but there are so many pot holes,” said White. “And I don’t know why a quarter of them can’t be fixed. Some of them at least. But it’s detrimental not just to my car, but everybody else’s.”