Heat-Buckled Highway Blamed For Pawnee County Crash

Monday, July 11th 2011, 12:12 pm
By: News On 6

NewsOn6.com & Dan Bewley, News On 6

Editor's note:  Early versions of this story identified the crashed vehicle as an SUV.  It was actually a motorcycle, according to the OHP incident report.

PAWNEE COUNTY, Oklahoma -- A portion of the Cimarron Turnpike buckled by the heat is being blamed for a crash in Pawnee County Sunday afternoon.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a 36-year-old Enid man was flown to a Tulsa hospital after his motorcycle went airborne after hitting the buckled pavement.

The OHP says Chason Lewis was westbound on U.S. Highway 412 at the time.

Troopers say the buckled pavement created a two-foot high ramp at mile marker 39.  The OHP says when Lewis' 2008 Honda CBR hit the ramp, it went airborne for 150 feet, then skidded another 222 feet.

A medical helicopter flew Lewis to a Tulsa hospital where he is listed in stable condition with severe injuries.

An Oklahoma Turnpike Authority work crew is repairing the buckled portion of the roadway.

The Turnpike Authority says it's not unusual for the concrete to buckle when it gets hot and stays hot. Especially recently as the temperatures have stayed around 110 degrees for several days in a row.

It happens as the concrete expands when it gets hot.

The road is cut into 15-foot sections. As the temperatures rise, the sections slowly move into one another and once they collide there's no place left to go but up.

The Turnpike Authority says it's impossible to predict when or if something like this will happen. They say they have inspectors on the roads everyday looking for danger spots.

The highway at mile marker 39 in the westbound lane will be down to one lane of traffic throughout the night Monday. The Turnpike Authority expects both lanes to be open by mid-morning Tuesday.