By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS AND MISSOURI (KCTV) -
The heat takes a toll on people, cars and even the roads they drive on.
For those who have noticed more bumps in their daily commute, it's not their imagination. This summer's record heat is causing roads to buckle and may be causing more damage that won't be known for months.
"Sometimes you'll feel a bump at a bridge that wasn't there maybe two or three weeks before, and it has to do with shrinking of the soil or expansion of the pavement itself, MODOT District Construction and Materials Engineer Perry Allen said.
Allen said damage to Missouri roads has been minor so far. Buckling is the main problem because concrete is only designed to expand so far.
"We call them blow ups where the pavement, actually the stress from the heat and the pressure being built up in it, makes the concrete or the asphalt push upward. Sometimes it's bad enough we have to make an emergency repair," Allen said.
On the Kansas side, rutting is an issue.
"It's because the asphalt is applied hot. What it does is heats up with the temps. That's where we get the ruts," Kimberly Qualls with Kansas Department of Transportation said.
Road crews are battling the heat, but it's more than just keeping workers cool - structural concrete can't be poured above 85 degrees.
"Many of those operations had to move to nights. You see a lot of activity and a lot of light towers first thing in the morning before the sun's up where these guys are working during the cool part of the day," Allen said.
"They're just changing their work schedule to do heavier, intense tasks in the morning and easier tasks in the afternoon when the temps are more extreme," Qualls said.
Officials said their workers are staying hydrated as they work and are taking necessary safety precautions.
"Year-round we are in the elements. People in this industry are pretty good at dressing for the temperature," Allen said.
Kansas and Missouri are also both keeping an eye on bridges. Most have devices built in to allow for expansion, but extreme weather can test the limitations.
"Once the temps cool off and the rains come, we might start to see more impacts occur," Qualls said.
MODOT and KDOT officials said if anyone sees road damage, they are asked to report it because they can only inspect so many miles of road, and they rely on everybody's input.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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