Spring's new crop — potholes

A motorist drives past a large pothole along Belair Drive near the Ker-Mac intersection on Wednesday.

A motorist drives past a large pothole along Belair Drive near the Ker-Mac intersection on Wednesday. Photo by Kris Wilson.

Today marks the long-awaited arrival of spring, the time of the year that brings a renewal of life … and the revelation of new potholes in city streets.

So keep your eyes peeled, drivers. Jefferson City officials say they’ve doubled up on their pothole patrols, and they’re taking requests for patch-jobs in the city.

“Tough winters are tough on everybody, and on the roads,” said Britt Smith, the city’s operations division director.

Normally, a single two-man crew scours the city for places to patch the roads, but Smith said they’ve recently had two of the crews on duty.

Working on a pothole crew isn’t glamorous work, Smith acknowledges. One person drives a truck while the other shovels a cold asphalt mix into the holes. The technique doesn’t require compaction from a steamroller. The crews just tamp it down with a shovel and roll over it with a wheel of the truck, he said.

For the larger holes, the city uses a different and more complex process that involves cutting the pavement, holding off traffic and replacing the street section with concrete. City workers recently used that technique for three or four areas on Wildwood Drive south of Lowe’s, Smith said.

City residents can call the city’s Public Works Department to report potholes, but Smith said the best way is to email the streets division directly at jcstreets@jeffcitymo.org. “Those are emailed directly to the people who do the work,” he said. “We try to get to those within a 24-hour time frame.”

The city has received “quite a few” emails lately, Smith said, but probably no more than normal for this time of year.

“Coming out of a heavy winter, those potholes really do pop up this time of year,” Smith said. “We really appreciate when folks let us know where they are.”

The Missouri Department of Transportation also encourages motorists to report potholes through its Missouri Pothole Patrol program that, like the city, aims to respond to problems within 24 hours.

Some streets in the city are maintained by MoDOT, including Missouri Boulevard. Overpasses in the city — including Dix Road, Jackson Street, Chestnut Street and Clark Avenue — that go over a MoDOT-maintained road or highway also are owned and maintained by MoDOT.

To contact MoDOT, call 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636) or email comments@modot.mo.gov. If you’re using a mobile device, visit www.modot.org/roadconcern. Motorists can also contact the agency through its website: www.modot.org/asp/repair.htm.

“I’m not going to say we don’t have issues out there we’re going to have to address, but for the most part, we are faring pretty well for as harsh a winter as we’ve had,” said Randy Aulbur, MoDOT’s Central District maintenance engineer.

He said the toughest part of fixing potholes in the spring is when, like last weekend, the city gets a lingering dose of winter weather. Since road crews use the same trucks to repair potholes as they do to plow snow, that requires crews to switch out gear on the trucks to accommodate the task.

“It’s a little bit difficult when we have to move back and forth from a road-repairing operation to a road-clearing operation,” Aulbur said.

Smith isn’t convinced that the official start of spring means Old Man Winter isn’t clinging on.

“I’m not one to say it’s over yet,” he said. “I’m one of those pessimistic guys. I think we have another storm in us.”

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