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Pavement buckling expected in SE Wisconsin with rising temps this week

So far this year 22 highways have seen pavement buckling.
cracked road surface tight shot
Posted at 6:44 AM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 07:44:11-04

As temperatures climb this week, so does the threat of pavement buckling. This year multiple areas across southeast Wisconsin have seen pavement buckling, including I-94 near Calhoun Road and Highway 31 in Caledonia.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the number of highways impacted in southeast Wisconsin has increased over the years. So far this year 22 highways have seen pavement buckling.

Alan Koch has been a mechanic for 31 years. He says if you run over a damaged roadway, it could significantly impact your vehicle’s tires, suspension and rims.

“Depends on how high the buckle is because you’re hitting on all four wheels. Because it’s normally really wide across the whole section of the road,” said Koch.

Pavement buckling occurs when slabs of pavement expand and push against one another. If the pressure becomes great enough, the pavement can buckle and create unexpected bumps or dips.

WisDOT contracts with the 72 county highway departments to provide maintenance efforts on interstates and US and state highways. Typically, crews use jackhammers to remove the loose and broken-up pavement and patch the distressed area with temporary asphalt to re-establish a safe driving surface. A permanent patch is placed in the future when time and traffic staging allows.

Number of buckles per year, according to WisDOT:

  • 2020 – 163 buckles affecting 34 different highways (14 buckles in southeast Wisconsin affecting seven different highways)
  • 2021 – 231 buckles affecting 27 different highways (10 buckles in southeast Wisconsin affecting eight different highways)
  • 2022 (as of July 26) – 90 buckles affecting 19 different highways (22 buckles in southeast Wisconsin affecting 10 different highways)

While it’s difficult to predict if, or where, pavement buckling may occur, WisDOT urges drivers to slow down, buckle up and focus their full attention on the roadway.

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