HEAT WAVE 2012: Road buckling continues, victim cautions drivers

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wisc. (WEAU) Hot temperatures caused pavement to buckle again Thursday in Chippewa County.

Another stretch of pavement on Highway 29 buckled Thursday afternoon near Boyd.

It was the fifth section of pavement to blow up on Highway 29 in the past week.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation said the pavement buckles when slabs expand during hot weather, and push against each other, and that the state saw 17 pavement buckles on major highways on July 4 alone.

According to the Chippewa County Highway Department, maintenance crews of four to a dozen workers, can typically repair highway buckling in about two or three hours.

Corrynn Roach said, along with her husband Adam and three-month-old son Caden were heading home Sunday to Baldwin on Highway 29 West in Chippewa County, after seeing her grandpa when she approached two bump signs.

"To know that something like that could happen to you is unbelievable," Roach said. "When you see two bump signs, you think it will be a minor bump and it ended up being a three foot ramp.

She said she slowed to around 55 miles per hour when her Dodge Journey took off into the air from the buckled ramp.

"It was very scary so I just immediately when we ended up on the side of the road, iI just grabbed my son and I ran, because I knew that there would be more cars coming," she said.

Just after her car landed, a phone captured video of an SUV being launched into the air, at the same spot.

The Chippewa County Highway Department said it's had eight road blowups in the past week.

Commissioner Bruce Stelzner said concrete is more likely to compress in the heat, and gets relief by buckling, and that they have crews on hand to remove broken slabs and replace what's broken.

"These are the worst conditions out there; 100 degree temps, that's when the pavement does fail. Crews that we have are very diligent about going out and working in this kind of weather," Stelzner said.

"Drivers should be prepared for anything on the roadway ... These things can happen very quickly," he said.

"When you see signs that say bump don't assume it's just gonna be a small little bump," Roach said.

The damage done to the Roach's car was an estimated $5,000, she said, but there's been no word on whether the county or state will pay for any of it.

Stelzner said road buckling repairs also run about $5,000 each as well.


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  • by driver on Jul 6, 2012 at 11:02 AM
    I went thru this area about 5:10 and the bump signs were there, slowing down was good enough then, it sounds like the road continued to get worse real fast, probably while the highway crew was on the way. County should not have to pay for car repairs-- mother nature is pushing alot of things to the limits lately.
  • by Terry Location: Eau Claire on Jul 6, 2012 at 08:36 AM
    Bump? Really? How about some hazard warning lights or having that section closed!
    • reply
      by Kevin on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:25 AM in reply to Terry
      The sign was placed as soon as a SMALL bump was reported. The necessary equipment and personel to repair the bumop took time to assemble, during which time the bump turned into the ramp (far more rapidly than anyone anticipated), about 30-45 minutes to get on scene.
  • by Anon on Jul 6, 2012 at 06:35 AM
    I am sure when the signs were put up it was just a "bump" in the road. What they hit was not a "bump". If you look at the pictures from the news and the video that was taken, the thing stuck up 3 feet in the air. A normal car or SUV would not make it over this heave in the concrete at a safe speed. In cases like this when the signs were put up, the county workers have no idea that the small bump would turn into this jump. It is so funny that people jump to conclusions and don't think about the situation or their comments before posting them.
    • reply
      by Anon on Jul 6, 2012 at 12:57 PM in reply to Anon
      You're right it was just a bump when the signs were put up. Also do you remember the comments people wrote about "passing six county worker's leaning on shovels" during the last year. But when they go out and put up sign's, the same people want the county worker to stay at the site with a measuring stick to make sure the bump doesn't grow. They don't want the county worker's who some said are "stealing from their pocket's to get paid, they just want one on every street corner when they need one.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 6, 2012 at 06:26 AM
    A "bump" sign to warn of a three-foot ramp? The lane should have been closed, and warnings issued a mile or so in advance. Negligent construction, failure to warn, etc. etc. etc.
    • reply
      by Ron on Jul 6, 2012 at 08:55 AM in reply to
      YA,how rediculous that anyone should even think that the government has no liability for this shoddy workmanship,expansion joints would definitely be appropriate,so what does az,tx and the warmer states do? we obviously cheap out..
      • reply
        by Kevin on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:27 AM in reply to Ron
        Remember this was poured by a private contractor who was the lowest bidder. The government (county highway department) didn't make the highway, but they have to repair it.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 5, 2012 at 06:46 PM
    The county or state SHOULD NOT have to pay for the damage done to Roach's car. There were signs posted BUMP and at those speeds "duh!" use common sense on the road people.
    • reply
      by Ben on Jul 6, 2012 at 08:43 AM in reply to
      Have you ever talked on a cell phone when driving? Have you ever drank coffee while driving? Ever gotten a speeding ticket? Have you ever sped, but not gotten caught? Have you ever driven after have a couple of drinks? Probably not. You sound perfect.
      • reply
        by Benny on Jul 8, 2012 at 03:34 PM in reply to Ben
        Have you ever hit one of those massive pot holes before and mess up your suspension? Maybe you think the government should pay the bill on that one too. Anonymous is right and you are over reacting.
  • by Abraham Location: Elk Mound on Jul 5, 2012 at 06:29 PM
    Hmmm, most of the state's buckled highways occurred in Chippewa County this week. Stelzner and crew might want to consult with other counties (with hotter temps this week) with respect to "best practices" in putting in heat reliefs and expansion joints to keep this from happening. Think of it as spending our tax monies to avoid the litigations here, and put those "trucks going nowhere" to better use.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 6, 2012 at 06:22 AM in reply to Abraham
      Exactly, Abraham. It has been hot all over the state, even hotter to the south of Chippewa. Why are so many of the failures happening on Highway 29? Could it be the shoddy construction?
      • reply
        by Kevin on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:18 AM in reply to
        The concrete is poured by the lowest bidder of a private firm. Sometimes the lowest bid can result in the lowest quality, too.
    • reply
      by krb on Jul 6, 2012 at 07:45 AM in reply to Abraham
      Were the roads that buckled concrete? Concrete doesn't expand like blacktop and probobly would be more likely to buckle.
      • reply
        by Kevin on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:16 AM in reply to krb
        Concrete still does expand, but is more brittle than blacktop since blacktop is made with a tar-like substance called asphalt, making it more pliable.
  • by Emily Location: Eau Claire on Jul 5, 2012 at 06:22 PM
    It would be completely ridiculous to expect the county or state to pay for the damages. The bump was properly labeled and the driver chose to ignore it, therefor it is her fault. If the state pays for that, they would also have to pay for every popped tire on a pot hole and every damage done when hitting a curb. If there were signs, it is in no way, shape, or form, the state or county's fault.
    • reply
      by Ron on Jul 6, 2012 at 08:50 AM in reply to Emily
      20 years ago the signage and warnings were very visible way before just approaching the hazard,now its almost insane,the standard of safety has dangerously deminished all for what?no budget $$$$$$$? sad!! these people should definitely be reimbursed for their damages,those "bumps" should have been monitored way more closely cause this is not the first time this has happened in this area,so the warning bump sign should have been way back and possibly a mph slow down sign so someone can anticipate a bigger problem just in case as well,cmon these people were told it was a bump,not a jump! its not like a wild animal running across the road,this is a manmade issue that obviously has not been well managed.. or constructed..YA ITS NOT LIKE EVIL KNEVIL WAS GONNA COME BACK AND PUT A SHOW ON THERE!!
      • reply
        by Benny on Jul 8, 2012 at 03:40 PM in reply to Ron
        Ron...you're wrong.
    • reply
      by Mike on Jul 6, 2012 at 09:38 AM in reply to Emily
      and if they don't, the next time a road washes away the county will put up a sign saying "dip". Taxpayers expect the county to maintain the public roadways in a safe manner. That SUV could have just as easily been a young couple on a motorcycle, a family in an econobox, or a bus load of kids or senior citizens.
      • reply
        by JR on Jul 6, 2012 at 04:39 PM in reply to Mike
        If the driver had been paying any attention at all, they would have seen the large obstruction in the road.. which was, well marked with 2 big orange signs.. Most of the time, when you are diving your car, you are responsible for what happens.. Pay attention to the road and traffic.. look 10 seconds ahead of your vehicle on the highway..not just whats right in front of your bumper.. drive defensively..
        • reply
          by anon on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:16 PM in reply to JR
          You are absolutely right. When the driver saw the signs, she should have been prepared. 55 is too fast when you see a caution sign, because you just never know and can never be too careful, especially with a baby in the car. A lesson learned. I bet the next time she sees orange warning objects or signs she will slow down. It could have been so much worse.
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