Why roads sometimes buckle in West Michigan

Posted at 4:42 PM, Aug 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 19:36:42-04

GRAND RAPIDS -- On Thursday, hot temperatures were blamed for the road buckling on southbound US-131 near 28th Street at about 4 PM, just in time for rush hour traffic. The road buckled at an expansion joint that is designed to give the road the ability to expand in hot temperatures.

According to an M-DOT spokesperson, this type of thing happens on occasion in Michigan. "In Phoenix, you get more even keel temperatures, where in Michigan it's more extreme," said John Richard, Communications Representative for M-Dot's Grand Region. "You've got the cold and you've got the heat."

Richard says although more expansion joints could prevent heat-related damage to roads and highways in the summer, this could create other problems in the winter. "It's a fine line because if you add more expansion joints, that allows more places for water to get in. And water is the real enemy of concrete because that will make it crumble and in the winter it'll freeze," he says.

Southbound US-131 has been re-opened, thanks to asphalt that was put in place around the expansion joint. Although this is just a temporary fix, M-DOT plans to put a more permanent fix in place in the next couple of weeks.