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KCMO mayor hopes new 'pothole czar' can improve roads

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Posted at 8:16 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 21:16:25-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As drivers continue to deal with potholes on metro roads, KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas hopes to create a new “pothole czar” position in the city to address the issue and make conditions safer on the streets.

Lucas announced the new job in a statement previewing his State of the City speech on Wednesday.

On Monday, Lucas spoke to 41 Action News about the impact the new “pothole czar” could bring to the area.

“Kansas City doesn’t have a planning problem as much as we sometimes have an implementation problem,” he said. “The question is: How do we fix it? What we’re looking to do is have a person whose responsibility is where it stops.”

The announcement comes after Lucas pledged to fix potholes around the city during his mayoral campaign in 2019.

While a start date and salary figure are unknown for the position, Lucas said he hoped to possibly find the “pothole czar” within current city leadership and staff.

“I like using experience that already exists,” he said. “It’s time we say, ‘Let’s take care of what we got. Let’s take care of our city. Let’s take care of the voters who have said time and again they want us to address existing needs.’”

This year alone, the city has received 1,666 complaints about potholes compared to 1,254 this time last year.

At car shops like Johnson County Automotive in Merriam, mechanics see the problems from potholes firsthand.

“Last year was definitely a bad year for potholes, but it seems like this year is right up there,” owner Alan Heriford said. “Any pothole you hit is not good for your car.”

Inside the shop on Monday, Heriford showed some of the expensive damage that can happen as a result of running over a pothole.

According to the mechanic, bad damage can end up costing a driver more than $1,000.

Following the announcement of a “pothole czar” addressing the road issue, he said more attention on the roads could make things safer for drivers.

“I don’t know if it takes a czar, but having somebody that’s in charge of them probably is a good start,” he said. “The big thing is recognizing it’s there and then doing something about it.”

More details about the new pothole position could come when Mayor Lucas delivers his State of the City address on Wednesday.

The speech will begin around 6 p.m. at Center High School.