Frost heaves causing Cedar Rapids snow plow slowdown

Drivers using caution when plowing roads

Dave Franzman
Published: February 17 2014 | 6:03 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:46 am in
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The deep frost that has caused a rash of water main breaks in Eastern Iowa recently is creating another dilemma for Cedar Rapids snow plow drivers. Uneven pavement and risk of potential damage to equipment and roads is forcing plowing to slow down.

Craig Hanson, public works maintenance manager in Cedar Rapids, said drivers began noticing an unusual number of frost heave sections on roads last week. Frost heave is where the frost in the ground causes some parts of roadways to push up or others to subside. That creates large bumps in the roadways and often broken pavement.

Hanson said when drivers plow the main roads, they can typically go up to 35 miles per hour when pushing snow to the side. But with the unusual number of frost heave sections and bumps on roadways drivers have had to slow down.

Bill Holub, a Cedar Rapids plow driver with 26 years on the job, said he’s never seen as many frost heaves as he has this winter while plowing. Holub said that he’s slowed down to about half the speed he would normally go to avoid jolting himself and damaging his truck on main roads.

Hanson said the problem is most noticeable on the main roads. Drivers don’t go as fast on the side streets when clearing because of cars usually parked along the side and other obstructions so the frost heaves there haven’t made much difference. The uneven sections of road created by frost underground is often what creates potholes as the frost leaves, the pavement breaks up and rains begin, Hanson added.

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