road work barrel

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Summer Heat Causing Some Michigan Roadways To Buckle

“Some of these roads may not necessarily be that old," Staton said.

July 02, 2018 - 4:44 pm

EATON COUNTY, Mich. (WWJ) -- The ongoing heat-wave across much of the state has caused certain portions of roadways to buckle.

On Sunday, Michigan Department of Transportation crews broke up concrete along northbound I-69 in Eaton County then filled the gaps with quick-drying asphalt.

John Staton, an engineer with M-DOT, says under extreme heat concrete isn't able to properly expand, so it starts to break-up.

“Some of these roads may not necessarily be that old but you don’t know whether it was an overlay of an older road underneath it and that older road may be moving a little bit differently than the newer one on top,” Staton said.

Two portions of I-69 in Eaton County are being patched, while on the west side of the state, one lane of US-31 near Muskegon also had to be repaired due to buckling.

Staton said repair crews have to think like the roadways in order to curtail the problems.

“Try to anticipate what’s going to happen in these large temperature swings and with the older roadways, quite often it’s not an exact science," Staton said. "You have to use some engineering judgement and sometimes Mother Nature throws you a curveball.”

Staton said these types of issues aren't that unusual, sometimes happening during the summer's first extreme heat wave.

“Quite often you do see an occasion or two in these first hot June days where we break 90-95 degrees where you get some instances where the road starts to blow up on you or buckle on you and it’s not every year, but it isn’t something that’s unusual,” Staton said.