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Heat Buckles Roads, Sends Car Flying In Eau Claire

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the issues that pop up in high heat: Sometimes, the pavement on roads literally pops up.

On a highway near Eau Claire, Wis., a buckle on Highway 29 Sunday sent one car flying. The buckle was marked, but the car approached quickly and was launched into the air — as if hitting a ramp.

Theresa Reich of Eau Claire took the video.

“We stopped to take a picture of it because we had seen a bunch of cars going over slowly and scraping the underside of their cars,” said Reich, who was surprised when she captured the airborne car. “You don’t see that stuff in real life.”

Fortunately, no one in the car was seriously hurt.

In Minnesota, a buckle on Interstate 94 near Dowline Avenue brought traffic to a halt.

Highways buckle in high heat because the concrete is expanding and has nowhere to go. All the rain we have had recently makes it worse. Maria

Maria Masten is the Minnesota Department Of Transportation’s Acting Pavement Engineer.

“Water heats up and also water expands and it just is accelerated with the heat,” said Masten.

The same stretch of Interstate 94 near Dowling Avenue also buckled last year. MnDOT says because the pavement there was laid down 30 years ago, it is more vulnerable. Older highways, like that stretch of 94, have cracks built in every 27 feet to help handle heat expansion.

Newer highways have cracks built in every 15 feet providing more room to expand and that is proving more effective.

“I can say that we haven’t we really don’t see blow ups with the 15-foot joint spacing,” said Masten.

So far on Tuesday, there have not been any reports of additional buckling. MnDOT says they hope no more buckling takes place, but they wouldn’t be surprised if more happened.

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