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Heat driving danger up on West Michigan highways


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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As temperatures in West Michigan rise, state transportation officials are asking drivers to be even more careful on the roads.

Over the weekend, a portion of US-131 in Allegan County buckled, causing traffic delays as crews did repair work.

Road experts say when a road buckles you can't predict or prepare for it.

It all boils down to a pressure imbalance between the joints in the road you drive over everyday.

"it's peak time for those joints to pop and we know it's going to happen," says MDOT spokesperson Nick Schirripa. He says the agency often sees buckled roads on highways built with concrete slabs.

"Being able to guess where it's going to happen is virtually impossible," says Schirripa.

Buckling happens when a rubber-like substance between the slabs wears down too much. MDOT says the concrete slabs usually rise just a few inches.

But back in 2015, a portion of US-131 in Kalamazoo County severely buckled, causing cars to go airborne.

Dave Circosta has been a truck driver for 32 years. "It's a dangerous job. The last thing i want to do is hurt somebody," he says.

He's more concerned about asphalt becoming soft in the summer and big trucks loosing traction.

"Rutting will make your cars wander back and forth and actually jerk," says Circosta.

When temperatures hit 90 degrees, MDOT officials say asphalt on the highway is about double that temperature. It's a hazard for drivers no matter what they drive.

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MDOT says there's not much you can do to prepare yourself for a buckled road other than be alert during the summer months and keep a close eye on what's ahead of you.

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