Drivers on U.S. 71 began reporting tar sticking to their vehicles Sept. 12, where the Missouri Department of Transportation said the sealing oil they use did not adhere and cure properly due to high humidity and rain
Nodaway County residents began to file claims related to road construction issues on U.S. 71, where tar from the road stuck to tires, undercarriage and body of vehicles driving on the road between Route FF and Missouri 136.
Drivers in the area began reporting tar sticking to their vehicles Sept. 12, where the Missouri Department of Transportation was completing a sealing project on area roads. MoDOT said the sealing oil they use is a preventative treatment measure aimed to fill small cracks in the road pavement, prolonging the life of the road. However, due to high humidity and rain, the oil used in the project did not adhere and cure properly.
After hearing complaints from area commuters, MoDOT worked with Vance Brothers Construction Inc. out of Kansas City, Missouri, to repair damaged roads. According to Vance Brothers Inc., a heavy thunderstorm affected the proper curing process of the material it used to treat the roads.
It is unclear how many were impacted, and Vance Brothers couldn’t provide an exact number of claims filed for damaged vehicles. Those who did file claims said it was an easy process.
Maryville citizen Chloe Kenkel’s white hatchback now features streaks of black tar on the side of its body, thrown up from the road by her tires. She said she was able to file a claim without any major issues.
“At first, I thought it was just built up dirt on the side of the car,” Kenkel said. “After noticing it wasn’t coming off, I was a little concerned, but it was easy to file the claim. I spoke to the Highway Patrol, who had the phone number for the company’s insurance agency. It made the whole thing really easy.”
Even with the tire and body damage incurred on Kenkel’s vehicle, she was still able to drive it daily in the meantime of filing a claim. Others weren’t so lucky.
Jami Hull, Maryville resident, said parts of her tire came off when she tried to remove the tar. She had to temporarily borrow a family member’s vehicle to get around.
“People said they did the highway section in just one or two days,” Hull said in an interview with the Maryville Forum. “It raised a whole bunch of red flags.”
District Construction and Materials Engineer for MoDOT Mary Miller said the crew didn’t do any work on Sept. 12 in order to avoid the rain.
“We actually laid the scrub seal the previous day, but we didn’t do any work on that Thursday because we knew it was going to rain,” Miller said with KQ2. “We didn’t want to have the oil reactivate and get on people’s tires.”
What the road crews were trying to avoid ended up happening anyway, and in more than one location in Northwest Missouri within the last month.
Two weeks prior to the incident on U.S. 71, a similar incident occurred on M-136, between Buzzard Gulch and the city of Albany. Some drivers reported liquid-like black tar stuck to tires on that stretch of road.
In response to calls and questions from locals, Vance Brothers released a statement mentioning what went wrong. It said the surface treatment used on the roads has been applied to more than 180 miles of northern Missouri with only one other rain-related issue.
Vance Brothers Inc. insurance agency handled all claims, as they were the company responsible for incident.
According to Sheriff Randy Strong, vehicle owners can make a claim by contacting Troop H of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
By Kendrick Calfee Northwest Missourian