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Hot Weather Carries Risk Of Pavement Buckling

Pavement Buckling

The pavement buckled last year on Lake Shore Drive during a heat wave. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – With the temperatures rising into the upper 90s, there is are warning of the threat of the pavement buckling on major roadways.

As CBS 2’s Kris Hamerbehl reports, there have not yet been any reports of pavement buckling in connection with the current heat wave yet. But during a heat wave last July, the pavement buckled twice on Lake Shore Drive.

On July 5 of last year, southbound Lake Shore Drive had to be shut down near McCormick Place when the pavement buckled across four lanes at 18th Street. Traffic headed to a Rush concert at the Charter One Pavilion was brought to a frustrating standstill.

Two days later, the pavement buckled again just north of Roosevelt Road, and southbound Lake Shore Drive had to be closed at Balbo Drive.

Pavement buckling is different from a frost heave, which happens in cold weather. In a frost heave, water gets under the pavement, which expands and blows up when the water turns to ice. But in a pavement buckle, a crack or joint running across the center line of a roadway fills with material that doesn’t compress or tamp down, and thermal expansion causes forces strong enough to blow the pavement out.

Last year, Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele compared the buckling to what happens in an earthquake.

The stretch of roadway where the buckling happened last year sees about 100,000 cars on an average weekday.