Engineers explain road buckling in western Wisconsin

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

Three sections of highways buckled in and around Eau Claire on Thursday.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It is easy to see how backed up Highway 53 got near River Prairie Dr. this afternoon.

The Wisconsin State Patrol says two people were hurt following a crash in the southbound lane. Two cars, driven by Melissa Tietz of Eau Claire and Corey Birdsill of Birchwood, stopped in traffic because the road ahead had buckled.

The driver coming from behind, Michele Wilson of Colfax, did not stop which led to the crash. She and her passenger had non-life threatening injuries.

It is a reminder how vigilant all of us need to be while driving down the highway.

"The warmer the temperatures, the more frequent occurrences of buckling you have," said David Solberg, Eau Claire's City Engineer.

He says buckling happens when temperatures get hot outside. But our cold winter may also have something to do with it.

"It could just be the stress from the cold this past winter and then the fairly rapid warm-up we've had recently," he added.

On Eau Claire's Westside two more buckles popped up on Clairemont Avenue just after 3:00. One happened in front of Mega Foods. Eau Claire Police say large chunks of cement broke loose.

Solberg says buckles are more common on highways for a couple different reasons.

"The higher number of cars and higher loading with heavier trucks than you typically see on city streets usually puts more stress on the interstate pavements and 4 lane pavements," he added.

Another video made state headlines last year when a car went airborne after hitting a buckle on a stretch of Highway 29 in Chippewa County.

While today was nothing like that incident, it is a warning that even summer road conditions can change unexpectedly.

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