Kansas City Scout


Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Hole Story

Nancy Powell, TMC Supervisor
KC Scout Blog – July 29, 2010

On July 8th, MoDOT engineers opted to close the right lane of the ramp from I-470 WB to I-435 WB at the Three Trails Memorial Crossing. This was due to settling in the area underneath the overpass which had caused the shoulder to become unstable. Cones restricted traffic from using the right lane and the traffic flow adjusted to accommodate the lane closure.

July 17th began as a sunny, humid Saturday morning, but quickly dissolved into a bit of a mess for MoDOT and area motorists. On this day at KC Scout, Sr. Traffic Systems Operator Dave McDaniel was conducting routine camera scans when something out of the ordinary caught his eye. While looking at the cameras in the area formerly known as "the Triangle" he noticed what appeared at first to be a split in the pavement in the closed section of the I-435 WB ramp. He then dispatched Emergency Responder Tony Snorgrass, who had just finished helping with a tire change on I-470 at Lakewood to check it out. Tony responded to the closure zone, and upon walking down under the bridge, detected an emerging gap in the pavement. He took immediate action and with assistance from Dave back in the TMC, they both began calling out MoDOT personnel, and immediately shutdown the entire ramp, including the adjacent 71 NB ramp to I-435 WB. At the afternoon Scout shift change, Dave briefed incoming Traffic Systems Operator, Scott Browning, on the still unfolding emergency in the triangle. Scott continued to monitor the flurry of activity at "The Hole" throughout the remainder of his 8 hour shift.

I was scheduled to work the overnight shift that Saturday night. When I reported to the TMC at 9:45 pm, MoDOT's senior management was still assembled with their incident response team at the District headquarters in Lee's Summit. Before she left the building near midnight, Beth Wright, our D4 District Engineer, came into the TMC to brief Scout and Customer Service on the latest developments concerning The Hole. She and her team would be back at 6:30 am Sunday to continue with detour plans and portable signage deployment in anticipation of Monday's rush hour and the impact this closure would have on area commuters.

Her "calm under chaos" demeanor that stressful weekend reminded me of something that occurred during my first month of employment with KC Scout back in July of 2004. On that bright summer day, the police radio in the TMC announced that a MoDOT worker had just been struck on I-435 near 23rd Street in Independence. A beloved longtime MoDOT employee lost their life that afternoon. Prior to that fateful day, I had not yet met Beth Wright. But in the midst of her own immeasurable grief, I watched as she entered the TMC to comfort and console her staff as best she could in the midst of overwhelming shock and sadness. That is the quality of a true leader. I knew then that I'd made the right decision in joining an organization that lifted its own when the walls came tumbling down.

So today, I'd like to say to Beth, Dave, Tony and Scott, "Once again, well done, team MoDOT. You make a difference in the work you do - each and every day!"

Beth Wright
D4 District Engineer

Dave McDaniel
Scout Sr. Traffic
Systems Operator

Tony Snorgrass
Emergency Response

Scott Browning
Scout/KHP Traffic
Systems Operator

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