Crews Fix Cracking, Buckling Freeways
The heat is causing roadways across Houston to buckle and crack, causing problems for commuters.
On Tuesday, cracks in the pavement were an issue on the North Beltway East near Imperial Valley in northeast Houston.
Texas Department of Transportation crews blocked off two lanes for seven hours to fix the problem before Tuesday morning's commute, but other problem areas are expected to pop up.
The culprit for the buckled roads is the ground underneath it, officials said. It is extremely dry from the drought and extreme heat.
"It's probably going to be something we have to deal with because of the scale of it," said Don Van Nieuwenhuise, the director of professional geoscience programs at the University of Houston. "When it gets this hot and this hot for that long, some of the materials can expand, and the designed expansion cracks that are put into a road become too small to take up all the expansion, and you can have some buckling from that."
TxDOT said buckled pavement was also a problem on Monday on the Southwest Freeway southbound connector ramp to the Sam Houston Tollway.
The pavement on the West Loop at Bellaire Boulevard buckled Sunday and the northbound offramp at Bellaire was closed for repairs. It was reopened by 4 a.m. Monday.
"What our guys are seeing out there is actually roadways that have been repaired before and these are just the patches that they have there, and they've noticed that there has been cracking, so they're going back in there and doing a thorough repair," said Danny Perez, with TxDOT. "It's a combination of the heat with the rains that we had last week (and) of course, normal wear and tear that we have on those freeways. There are thousands of cars that travel on those freeways."
Crews said preventing cracking from happening is virtually impossible, so they look for cracks and make repairs.
"We just want to be proactive. Our guys are going to be out there scouting, making sure that if there are any issues, they'll address them. We're not seeing a major problem across the state," Perez said.
TxDOT said it will be along Highway 59 at Beltway 8 again Tuesday night to make more repairs.
The buckled pavement not only affects the wear and tear on tires, but also a vehicle's alignment.
"It's almost like it's creating a speed bump with portions that are just coming up and bubbling up. I've never seen anything like it," driver Jason Forscht said.
Drivers can report roadway problems to TxDOT at 713-802-5000 or online at www.txdot.gov.