PAVEMENT PROBLEMS: Heat Buckling Pavement
What has been a great year for our streets has begun to turn…
“You know, we look back on our records and last year, for example, we had a couple of them, but we didn’t have this kind of sustained heat,” says Des Moines Public Works director, Bill Stowe, “we’ve had a couple, today.”
Damage in Urbandale, in Ames, in Des Moines, and elsewhere. Concrete and asphalt aren’t the problem, it’s what’s underneath.
“The street itself is really a cap,” Stowe explains. ”We drive on it, but underneath that cap are a lot of utilities: telecommunications, natural gas, water, electrical cables, etc.”
Pipes, cables and the water vapor around them expand in the heat. Asphalt can handle it, to a point, but concrete is too rigid and dangerous buckling often occurs.
The buckling also goes downward—like this at 9th and Forest, today. Water pipes had broken in the heat.
The mild winter saved Des Moines public works about half a million dollars, and you wonder if this is Mother Nature’s way of evening the score.
“We had a great winter, a great spring,” says Stowe, “we’ve had a warm summer, so far but I can’t imagine it so warm over time that it’ll eat up those savings from a nice, mild winter.”
Stowe’s department will continue to apply those savings to street resurfacing, and continue to watch for more bumps in the road.