Summer heat puts pressure on roadways - – Rockford’s News Leader

Summer heat puts pressure on roadways


The intense heat this week can be tough on roads, causing cracking, or in extreme cases even buckling.

"Wow! Geez! I'm glad that wasn't my car."

"That was pretty terrifying!"

That's the common reaction when people see this video. It's made it all the way from a Wisconsin cell phone to CNN and YouTube.

The car goes airborne, in the middle of a Wisconsin highway, then slides into the opposite lanes.

The culprit is extreme heat. That "ramp-like" piece of concrete is a result of what's known as heaving or buckling.

"The concrete expands and it has no where else to go and it just pops up," Tim Hanson, City of Rockford Public Works Director explains.

Concrete isn't built to deal with temperatures like we are experiencing right now.

"Once it happens, and it heaves, it's pretty dramatic," Hanson says. "So when you have something like that occurs, we just have to be able to react to it. But there's nothing we can do to prepare for it."

Road crews try to patch up troubled areas when they find them. They use a material that does not often buckle.

"Asphalt has enough flexibility through heating and cooling," Mark Stockman, City of Rockford Street Superintendent says. "It's a little more of a rubberized type of material, for lack of a better comparison. It will expand and contract and not have a catastrophic failure."

The City of Rockford has seen heaving in roads like 2nd Street and areas on Alpine in the past, but luckily, none yet this year.

"I'm surprised we haven't seen anything thus far, with the heat wave that we've had," Hanson says. "And over the next several days, it can happen at anytime. There's nothing that you can really do to combat against it. But when it heaves, we'll hear about it."

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