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Extreme summer heat can cause metro Detroit roads to buckle

Posted at 4:17 AM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 07:13:14-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — This summer’s extreme heat is not only uncomfortable for us, but also the roads.

With the heat, the concrete has the potential to expand and buckle roads.

It happened at the beginning of summer on I-75 in Cheboygan County, and in 2018 on I-496 in Lansing.

The Michigan Department of Transportation does try to prevent this from happening, creating joints in the roads much like what you see on sidewalks to allow for room of expansion during heat.

“The joints in the concrete do have to be cleaned out, we have to keep debris out of them which is also why we don’t make them very wide because you don’t want that to then become an area that collects debris,” said Diane Cross, working in communications for Michigan Department of Transportation.

These joints do need to be maintained and cleaned to make sure there is room for expansion when it does happen in the summer heat.

Cross says it is hard to tell ahead of time when this buckling will happen, since the majority of the shifting is happening underground and out of sight.

“There is a lot of things you should be doing all the time not matter what the conditions are and then that is when you will be more likely to spot something you need to slow down or be careful of,” said Cross.

So far this summer we have not seen any buckling roads here in metro Detroit. Cross says it still could happen, but regular maintenance will hopefully prevent any issues.