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Elevated temperatures cause pavement buckling on Riverdale Road

By Ryan Aston - | Jun 24, 2024

Ryan Aston, Standard-Examiner

A Utah Transit Authority bus travels on eastbound Riverdale Road near 700 West on Monday, June 24, 2024.

RIVERDALE -- Riverdale Road, an important thoroughfare for motorists traveling between Davis/Weber counties and downtown Ogden, experienced lane closures over the weekend amid pavement buckling caused by elevated temperatures.

The buckling occurred just east of the 700 West intersection where the road transitions into the curved section that serves as a bridge over the Weber River and rail lines in the area. Mitch Shaw, Utah Department of Transportation's senior communications manager for Region One, said that crews responded after 6 p.m. Sunday and worked through the night to repair the damage.

All lanes were open again Monday morning.

"What happens is these concrete panels in the road, they contract and expand depending on what the temperature is. So, when it's colder, obviously, they contract. And then when it's hotter, they expand, and they're meant to do that," Shaw said. "Over time, especially on kind of older sections, road grit, little tiny rocks, water -- stuff essentially gets in the road and in between these concrete panels. And it blocks the room to expand, essentially.

"When they expand, there's not the room there used to be for them to expand. And, basically, the concrete can only go up when that happens."

Shaw said pavement buckling caused by the heat is an annual occurrence on Utah's roads and highways, particularly during periods of sustained hot temperatures, and there's no predicting when or where it will occur. He added that UDOT reacts as quickly as possible to address issues as they crop up.

Temperatures recorded at the nearby Ogden-Hinckley Airport crossed the 100-degree threshold Sunday, and the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for much of Northern Utah (and beyond). That warning will remain in effect through 11 p.m. Tuesday.

While the latest heat damage occurred near the elevated section of Riverdale Road that passes over the river and railway, Shaw said the bridge area remains structurally sound and safe to travel on. However, the buckling pavement nonetheless presented potential dangers for motorists and their vehicles.

"The integrity of the bridge is completely safe and the heat doesn't have any impact on that whatsoever," he said. "If there's a big hump in the road, I mean, people are expecting to drive on a smooth surface, and it can cause vehicle damage. So, whenever it happens, we're out there immediately when we find out about it. And that's kind of what happened yesterday."

Shaw added that motorists can help keep roadways safe by reporting damage when they see it, either by contacting UDOT at 801-620-1600 in Region One (which includes Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Morgan, Rich and Weber counties) or calling 911.


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