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MoDOT responds after oil substance comes off roadway, sticks to people's tires

Several drivers in Nodaway County got an unpleasant surprise when they said a sticky, tar-like substance clung to their vehicle's tires.

Posted: Sep 18, 2019 3:19 PM

(NODAWAY COUNTY, Mo.) On Thursday, several drivers in Nodaway County just north of Maryville got an unpleasant surprise when they said a sticky, tar-like substance clung to their vehicle's tires.

The issue happened on a stretch of Highway 71 between Icon Road and Highway 136 at Burlington Junction where MoDOT crews were carrying out a sealing project. 

"We've been doing this process all year," Mary Miller, district construction and materials engineer for MoDOT, said. "We've done hundreds of miles of it in our district this year successfully with no issues. It just was kind of a perfect storm the two times it happened."

The Department of Transportation said the sealing oil they use to cover roadways is a preventative maintenance treatment that prolongs the life of the roadway by filling small cracks in the pavement.

However, MoDOT said the oil used on this project did not cure properly due to high humidity and rain in the area.

"We actually had 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, so we didn't want to have the oil reactivate and get on people's tires," Miller said. 

Unfortunately, it still happened, though it's unclear just how many drivers were impacted. 

"It's oil plus a little bit of other stuff mixed in there," Miller said. "There's emulsion, there's polymer. So it's a little stickier than a normal oil that you would think of that you would put in your car."

Lots of drivers who were affected by the issue also reached out to the Nodaway County Sheriff's Office on Facebook after the stretch of Highway 71 was closed for a short time while MoDOT repaired the problem. The highway has since been reopened.

The Sheriff's Office said they assisted the Missouri State Highway Patrol and MoDot on taking reports from affected drivers. On Facebook, the department asked anyone needing to file a claim to do so by contacting the contractor's (Vance Brother’s Construction Company) insurance company. It's Traveler Insurance with claim #FJB528.

MoDOT said they are continuing their sealing project on Highway 71 just south of Maryville, but are hoping to avoid further issues by using a different oil that cures quicker.

"We're confident going forward that we won't have other issues, and we're doing our best to make sure it doesn't happen again," Miller said.

If you need more information on filing a claim, contact the Nodaway County Sheriff's Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol or MoDOT. 

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A couple of disturbances will be moving through the area starting early Sunday morning through Monday evening. These systems have been pretty hard to pin down and are still developing. The first system will cause snow showers starting Sunday morning and it will hang around overnight. Then system two moves in on Monday morning and could continue through the evening hours. Right now it looks like we could be seeing 2-5 inches of snow, with larger accumulations in counties to the south.
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