Maintenance & Potholes
Public Works' Street Maintenance Division works hard to keep local roads as safe and smooth as possible. In addition to being the city's first line of defense against winter weather, the Street Division is also responsible for:
- Pothole patching
- Pavement marking and striping maintenance
- Traffic signage maintenance, and
- Providing road closure support to other emergency response personnel like Police and Fire
Although all of these service are important, pothole patching is arguably the most important to residents, businesses, and visitors. Pothole patching also plays an important role in the city's overall pavement preservation program, as it extends the life of local roadways. Street Preservation activities are also complimented by crack sealing.
Check out the FAQ below to learn more about pothole patching in Kansas City, Kansas. To report a pothole, call 3-1-1 or visit mywyco.wycokck.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Report a Pothole?
To report a pothole, call 3-1-1 or visit mywyco.wycokck.org.
Crews are proactive when it comes to pothole patching, but unfortunately, they don't spot them all. Please remember to report potholes if you see them while you're out and about. Providing general location information is extremely helpful, and photos are great too! If you use mywyco.wycokck.org, you can add photos that help crews assess severity and get a better idea of where exactly the pothole is located.
How Do Potholes Form?
As long as there are paved roadways, there will also be potholes. Despite popular misconceptions, potholes can form at any time throughout the year:
- Winter weather is especially tough on roads. Moisture from snow and ice seeps into pavement, freezes, and then expands. When the expanded pavement thaws out, it contracts and leaves gaps in the surface underneath.
- The summer is equally hard on roads. Heat from the sun causes pavement to expand and water can seep through the cracks that form. As streets cool overnight, the pavement contracts and leaves behind gaps in the surface underneath.
- As vehicles travel over these gaps, the asphalt begins to break apart, leaving behind a pothole
For a visual example of how a pothole forms, check out this graphic:
How are potholes prioritized?
When it comes to pothole patching, teams prioritize areas with high concentrations of potholes and high-traffic volumes. Other factors matter as well, but high-traffic volume is the primary driver. Some of the other factors are:
- Severity - Dependent on size, depth, and location on the road surface.
- Proximity - Work is assigned to crews based on location of other similar work to allow for efficient routing throughout the day.
- Weather and other contributing factors, like closures, may cause different prioritization of repairs.
How are potholes fixed?
In Kansas City, Kansas, Public Works’ Street Division uses both of the City’s Hot Patchers and the traditional “Throw and Roll” cold patching methods.
With onboard attachments like a jackhammer and tack oil application wand, the Hot Patchers allow team members to apply long-lasting and more uniform repairs to road surfaces. While this process is initially slower than the "throw and roll," repairs last much longer – in some cases until the next overlay or rebuild. Over time, the need to patch the same hole time and time again diminishes significantly. Team members do still occasionally use older patching methods to get material in troublesome holes and buy time until the Hot Patchers or surface treatments are available.
In 2021, Public Works added a brand new Crack Sealing machine to its street maintenance toolkit. Pavement expands and contracts as it cools and warms throughout the year. In some cases, this can cause cracks to appear on the streets. If these cracks are not addressed quickly, they allow moisture to sneak into the road’s surface and ultimately decrease the road’s overall lifespan. The new Crack Sealer allows teams to apply repairs quickly and efficiently, which aids Public Works significantly in their effort to stretch limited dollars further and keep roads healthier, longer. Unique to this model is its onboard and completely self-contained Asphalt Crack Sealing Kettle, which makes it capable of heating, melting, and applying all grades of rubberized asphalt crack sealer, joint sealants, and waterproofing compounds without the need for additional equipment.
Are potholes proactively addressed?
Yes - crews take a proactive approach to patching, so they are always on the lookout for new potholes. Unfortunately, they don’t to spot them all.
Remember to report potholes by calling 3-1-1 or visiting mywyco.wycokck.org.