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Road buckle near Colfax as heat wave pounds highway infrastructure

UPDATED: Tue., June 29, 2021

Pavement buckled on U.S. Highway 195 north of Colfax on Tuesday due to extremely hot temperatures.  (Washington State Department of Transportation )
Pavement buckled on U.S. Highway 195 north of Colfax on Tuesday due to extremely hot temperatures. (Washington State Department of Transportation )

Pavement on U.S. Highway 195 north of Colfax buckled on Tuesday, in what is likely to be just the beginning of infrastructure damage as a historic heat dome bears down on the Northwest.

The Washington State Department of Transportation reported the buckling on its Eastern Washington Twitter account late Tuesday afternoon as temperatures peaked across the region. The roadway remains open, but drivers were told to use caution.

Crews will begin repairs early Wednesday morning, according to Ryan Overton, communications consultant at WSDOT.

Roads usually leave room for pavement to expand during high temperatures, but extreme heat can cause pavement to expand past those limits, resulting in buckling, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Buckling wasn’t the only damage to Washington roadways. Hot oil inside asphalt in parts of state Route 20 east of Colville caused pavement to start peeling off the road early Tuesday. Road crews sanded the road to prevent further damage, according to Overton.

Buckling also occurred on Interstate 5 near Seattle when temperatures were peaking in Western Washington, Overton said.

In Idaho, there have been no reports of buckling or heat-related damage, according to Megan Jahns, public information officer at the Idaho Department of Transportation. Jahns said she had never heard of buckling on Idaho roads.

The area where the buckling occurred in Eastern Washington is about 30 miles away from the Idaho border.

So far, no major heat damage has occurred on Spokane roads, according to Marlene Feist, city of Spokane’s director of public works.

But as the heat drags on, Overton said he would not be surprised if more buckling and other heat-related damage strikes the region’s roads .

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