Oregon’s Buckled Roads and Melted Cables Are Warning Signs

This week, trapped under a stalled mountain of warm air called a heat dome, the Pacific Northwest got a taste of the future.

On Sunday, as temperatures hit 105, the concrete beneath State Route 544 outside Everson, Washington, began to do what concrete does when it gets really hot: It expanded. By 5 pm, the asphalt above it had softened and cracked, leaving a thick, humped seam across two lanes. To the south, in Portland, Oregon, a road on the northern side of the city seized up around a pothole, leading authorities to close surrounding streets.

As the heat wave wore on, the hits kept coming. Amtrak slowed trains on its Cascades service, worried the heat would warp the tracks. Power cables melted on the Portland Streetcar, which canceled service on Sunday and Monday. The local light rail system also halted, after its copper overhead wires sagged in 120-degree heat and became unusable.

“With extreme weather becoming more common, we’re realizing that as an agency we need to become more climate-resilient,” says Tyler Graf, a spokesperson for TriMet, the agency that runs the light-rail system.

Scientists have long warned of more violent and extreme weather events as the climate changes. What were once 100- or 1,000-year heat waves, floods, storms, and hurricanes will become more common. Now, the extreme weather in the Northwest, and the cracks, sags, and delays that followed, are reminders that the country’s underfunded and underappreciated transportation network isn’t prepared for what’s ahead.

visit this site
visit this site right here
visit this web-site
visit this website
visit website
visit your url
visite site
watch this video
web
web link
web site
weblink
webpage
website
website link
websites
what do you think
what google did to me
what is it worth
why not check here
why not find out more
why not look here
why not try here
why not try these out
why not try this out
you can check here
you can find out more
you can look here
you can try here
you can try these out
you can try this out
you could check here
you could look here
you could try here
you could try these out
you could try this out
your domain name
your input here
have a peek at this web-site
Source
have a peek here
Check This Out
this contact form
navigate here
his comment is here
weblink
check over here
this content
have a peek at these guys
check my blog
news
More about the author
click site
navigate to this website
my review here
get redirected here
useful reference
this page
Get More Info
see here
this website
great post to read
my company
imp source
click to read more
find more info
see it here
Homepage
a fantastic read
find this
Bonuses
read this article
click here now
browse this site
check here
original site
my response
pop over to these guys
my site
dig this

Aging roads—in some cases 50 or 70 years old—contribute to the problem. Over time, water and other debris have leaked into the spaces between the slabs of concrete that make up the road. When the concrete expands in extreme heat, it pushes up. “When an area that doesn’t experience heat that regularly has it come in, it creates a lot of challenges for us,” says Morgan Balogh, an assistant regional administrator for maintenance and operations at the Washington Department of Transportation.

It’s complicated by a little-known fact: Roads and railways are built differently in different places. Many highways in the US are paved with asphalt concrete, a mix of crushed stone, gravel, and sand called “aggregate” and a soft, black “binder.” The binder is what remains of crude oil after petroleum, kerosene, and other products are refined; its qualities depend on where and how it’s made. In an arid, hot desert like Arizona, engineers use a stiff binder that will withstand high temperatures. In Seattle, binders can soften at lower temperatures, because it’s not supposed to get as hot. That’s partly why Phoenix’s normal summertime temperature wreaked havoc on a place like Bellingham, Washington. Similarly, the overhead wires in Phoenix’s light-rail system are calibrated to withstand heat up to 120 degrees.

In extreme heat, asphalt gets soft and behaves kind of like peanut butter, says Hussain Bahia, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin who heads the school’s Modified Asphalt Research Center. Put it in an oven and it will become a “slush fluid,” he says. Sustained heat on roads not built for heat can lead to potholes, pockmarks, and bumps. The bumps can cause cars to spin out of control. When it rains again, they increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. Excessive heat is especially bad for roads, because it can make them less able to resist strain and spread heavy loads across their surfaces.

Image may contain: Universe, Space, Astronomy, Outer Space, Planet, Night, Outdoors, Moon, and Nature

The WIRED Guide to Climate Change

The world is getting warmer, the weather is getting worse. Here’s everything you need to know about what humans can do to stop wrecking the planet.

As regional climates change, road builders are having a hard time keeping up. A few state agencies have begun to incorporate more recent climate data into their formulas for choosing asphalt mixes, says Shane Underwood, an associate professor of civil, construction, and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University. But none are yet projecting a hotter future, he says. Roads built today are meant to last decades, but they might not be prepared to withstand the future climate. He and colleagues estimate the changing climate could boost road maintenance costs by billions of dollars a year.

“Integrating what the science says about what temperatures are going to look like into decisionmaking is definitely important,” Underwood says. Agencies will have to strike a fine balance to navigate limited budgets and the cost of different road materials.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, politicians are hammering out a new infrastructure deal—and have stripped it of its major climate proposals. As the Pacific Northwest continues to tabulate how many people died during its record-breaking heat, it’s not clear if those in charge understand what’s coming, or are willing to learn from the recent past.


More Great WIRED Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *