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Metra delays expected due to extreme heat

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The extreme heat is causing problems on the roads and rails in the Chicago area.

The pavement buckled at Columbus Drive near Roosevelt in the city Wednesday afternoon when temperatures topped triple digits. The road is closed between Roosevelt Road and Balboa while crews work to repair it.

"It looks like something that would happen in California," said John Fluellen. "A few people were making comments last night and they were saying it looks like an earthquake."

"I don't want to predict anything because I don't know, but if you noticed yesterday we saw both of these pop around 4 o'clock," said Commissioner Gabe Klein, Chicago Department of Transportation. "This is happening across the country from Wisconsin to Texas. You're seeing streets buckling all over the place."

Simliar incidents are reported in the suburbs as well. Roads have buckled at Archer and 104th in Willow Springs and on eastbound Illinois Route 62 in Hoffman Estates.

"Pavement, steel, asphalt, concrete will expand and contract as the temperatures fluctuate," said Guy Tridgell of IDOT. "Water contributes to that process - it essentially boils the material."

The heat isn't making train travel very easy either.

Metra is warning riders to allow for extra time between commutes because of the high temperatures. Metra has to slow its trains because of stress on the tracks, switches and signals during extreme weather. Only a few minor heat-related delays were reported Thursday morning.

Commuter Lisa Jones planned ahead.

"I just got up very early to make sure I took the extra early train and I got here really early," she said.

Getting anywhere in the hot weather means a simple walk can turn into a dreaded trek.

"Sweltering but I have to cross the river. I am 300 North LaSalle so I go underground," said Barbara Turner.

The Chicago Transit Authority said that it stepped up track inspections due to the heat, searching for kinks or bends that could disrupt the rails.

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