The Transportation Department is gearing up to repair the damage winter has done to our state’s roads and bridges.

(Photo courtesy MoDOT)

Don Hillis is the Director of System Management for the Transportation Department. He says it’s been a tough winter for Missouri roads, and spring is when things start breaking apart.

With warmer weather comes the melting and refreezing that is the main cause of roadway potholes. As the snow melts, moisture seeps into cracks and joints in the pavement. When temperatures drop, that water freezes and expands the pavement causing it to bulge, heave and fracture. The wear and tear of traffic on the cracked pavement eventually causes chunks of the road to pop out.

“Think of it like putting a soda can in the freezer and forgetting to take it out,” Hillis says. “The can might just bulge, but if conditions are right it will burst causing a mess. That’s a lot like how a pothole takes shape.”

MoDOT crews routinely scout for potholes and make temporary repairs to the pavement. Permanent fixes using a more durable type of asphalt have to wait until winter weather is over for the year.

Hillis says there are some areas of the state that the department knows will need extra attention to repairs. He says the Northern part of the state typically gets more freezes and thaws, leading to more damage, but that the interstates throughout the state will need repairs because they are all heavily traveled.

MoDOT spends about $15 million annually on pothole patching.

MoDOT Director Kevin Keith has said cutting back on restriping would help save the department money. Hillis says if striping on lettered routes and state highways continue to remain visible, they might not be redone this year. He says restriping is typically done once per year, but some roads might start getting restriped every two years.

Hillis says even though the department is working to save money, it won’t be skimping on pothole repair. The department’s plans to cut back include less re-striping, median mowing, and sign replacement.

MoDOT urges drivers to be on the lookout for potholes and avoid hitting them, if they can safely do so. Motorists can report potholes by visiting MoDOT’s website at and clicking the button that says, “Report a Road Concern.” They can also call the department’s toll-free number, 1-888-275-6636.