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Oklahoma’s summer heat melts poorly built highways (OPINION)

Oklahoma’s summer heat melts poorly built highways (OPINION)

Tulsa Beacon
August 9, 2018  
Robert McDowell

It was somewhat bemusing and concerning to read a headline in the  July 25 daily paper that carried the headline: “Segments of Cimarron buckle from extreme heat.” The story was datelined Oklahoma City and credited to Barbara Hoberock of the Tulsa World  (so she must be the State Capitol reporterette).

The story begins by saying. “Extremely hot temperatures have caused portions of the Cimarron Turnpike to buckle, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority was told Tuesday.” For those not familiar with Oklahoma highways, there are a number of turnpikes that have been built since the first one, the Turner Turnpike, was opened in the 1950s, to my recollection. The total “lane miles” is in the several  thousands. A lane mile is one lane of pavement for one mile – thus a four-lane, 100-mile highway contains 400 lane miles of road (and in my mind paved shoulders would be added).

This caught my engineering attention since there are older highways that do not seem to have that trouble and endured much higher  temperatures, especially in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s. In fact, it is in my memory that I witnessed a section of old U.S. 66 southwest of Stroud was built in the 1930s with concrete. One difference was that the concrete was being mixed “on site” by a self-propelled mixer. It was astounding as we left Stroud to feel a road that old to be much smoother than the Turner Turnpike. If memory serves correct, U.S. 66 was the first highway in the nation to be fully paved across any state and that was in Oklahoma... FULL ARTICLE

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