Winter weather takes toll on roads

ST. JOSEPH, Mo – Across Northwest Missouri, the effects of winter weather are evident everywhere you look: frozen ground, canceled classes, snow-covered fields, and potholes. The Missouri Department of Transportation normally launches its pothole efforts in March, but with the extreme weather we’ve faced this year, the roads are taking a beating. When they’re not out plowing ice and snow, MoDOT does its best to respond and patch potholes to keep highways smooth and safe for Missouri motorists.

What causes a pothole? There are a few steps to the formation of a pothole:

  1. Water from melting snow and ice seeps into the pavement and softens it.
  2. During cold spells, the water in the pavement freezes and expands, breaking up the pavement on and/or below the surface.
  3. When the ice melts, it leaves gaps inside the pavement and the moisture continues to soften it.
  4. Cars, trucks and commercial vehicles drive over the soft, cracked pavement which can no longer support the weight of the vehicles. The pavement begins to break up with each passing vehicle and potholes are created.

“If you see a pothole, please let us know,” said Northwest District Maintenance and Traffic Engineer Tonya Lohman. “We know our aging infrastructure is prone to potholes this time of year and we are making every effort to keep your roads as safe and smooth as possible.”

During colder weather, crews use a short-term, temporary solution: cold asphalt mix. The long-term fix of hot asphalt mix isn’t effective until temperatures remain above freezing and the plants that produce the hot mix will not begin running until spring. Recurring potholes won’t hold the temporary patch, but MoDOT will continue to patch these holes until a more long-term solution is available.

MoDOT encourages motorists to use one of the following tools to report the location of a pothole on a state-maintained route:

During this and every other season, MoDOT asks motorists to keep an eye out for crews. Pothole crews are often a moving operation utilizing a Truck-Mounted Attenuator (TMA) at the rear of the work crew. This TMA employs flashing arrows to alert drivers of the crew members ahead. Eliminate distractions while driving and focus on the roadway – for your own safety, the safety of other motorists, and so our crews can go home safely.

For more information about this or other MoDOT projects, visit Real-time information on work zones (those that are not moving operations) and traffic conditions can be found at Information and tips are also provided on Twitter @MoDOTNorthwest and Facebook at



Districts Involved