WEST FARGO — Hot days dipping into cool nights wreaked havoc for drivers on some of Fargo and West Fargo’s major roadways.
Both cities had crews repair buckled concrete roads in the past few weeks due to the temperature fluctuations from high heat.
West Fargo Public Works Director Chris Brungardt said Ninth Street East near Seventh Avenue South and a patch of 13th Avenue West had buckling due to the hot and humid weather last month.
“It’s fairly common when we get extreme heat variations,” Brungardt said. “Concrete expands and contracts with the temperatures.”
In Fargo, Public Works Director Ben Dow said all four lanes of 45th Street just north of 32nd Avenue buckled as well as a stretch of 42nd Street.
“Ours are generally always related to temperatures upwards of 95 [degrees],” Dow said. “The heat causes the concrete panels to work against each other and they start to buckle.”
In Moorhead, Public Works Director Steve Moore said there was one significant road heave on Eighth Street northbound and 24th Avenue but the Minnesota Department of Transportation fixed the issue quickly.
“It was isolated,” Moore said. “There didn’t seem to be nothing out of the ordinary that caused it.”
Brungardt said larger, concrete roads, with as three-lanes or more tend to be made up of two layers of concrete. The top layer will heat up as the day progresses, leading the concrete to compress while at the same time the bottom layer will remain cool and contract.
The opposing forces can then cause the very top layers of the road to bend and sections can fold in on one another.
Dow explained that soil conditions over the summer can also cause the buckling.
“This year, there has been a lot of moisture in the ground and not a lot of room for expansion or contraction. If we would have seen a relatively hot summer, we would have seen a lot more issues,” Dow said.
Dow said a handful or less of roads may experience buckling in the summer if made of concrete.
He said asphalt roads usually don’t buckle as the asphalt has more room to move, shrink and contract.
West Fargo’s Ninth Street and 13th Avenue were both expanded and reconstructed last year, but Brungardt said the areas that buckled are not on the newly redone parts of the roads.
“You see it more in older sections,” Brungardt said. “The expansion joints deteriorate over time.”
Brungardt said work on the two West Fargo roads will likely take about a week to finish and cost around $5,000 each.
While the dollar amount is not high, drivers in the area are detoured around the work, and it can cause extended driving time and frustration for motorists on some of the area’s busiest roads.
“All these effects add up,” Brungardt said. “That’s the real cost there.”