Despite the extremely dry and hot conditions that have created infrastructure problems elsewhere, Missouri Department of Transportation officials say the state roads are holding up well.
While the high heat usually means more work for road crews, Mike Schupp with MoDOT says that’s not the case this year: “We’ve not had that high humidity and a lot of rain. Those pavements are dry underneath of them. If they were wet underneath of them you’d have that steam coming up from the bottom and those hot temperatures above we’d have a lot more problems than we do now.”
Schupp says the number of pavement faults this summer is what the department normally sees.
Roads are built to expand with the heat using historical temperature ranges. But this summer, temperatures are breaking historic records.
Glen Washer is an associate professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Missouri: “When you have very long periods of very dry weather and very hot weather," he says, "sometimes those initial design assumptions might be overcome.”
Washer says the unusually high heat causes roadways to expand and that can create a bumpy ride for drivers: “Where the two pieces of concrete pavement meet, there’s not enough room for the expansion to occur, so they have to go somewhere so they tend to go up and that creates a big bump in the highway.”