Extreme Heat Causes Street Damage, Water Main Breaks

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hot roadways are causing headaches for Wichita road crews as this summer scorcher means street buckling and water main breaks. The heat is forcing crews to make necessary repairs in extreme conditions, which is taking a toll on workers and the city budget.

"I've done it for so long it's just kind of the same thing. It's a job and we all love our job," said Wichita road crew supervisor Reggie Perez.

Perez and his crew have a job that requires extra work outdoors when most are trying to stay inside.

"It's just very hot. [We] just drink a lot of water and keep everybody as safe as we can," said Perez.

Safety for workers is the top priority city leaders say, which is why repairing street buckling and water main breaks may take a little longer in extreme heat.

"The productivity of the crews that are out there doing the work is reduced, just like it is for anyone that's working out in these conditions," said Wichita Public Works & Utilities Assistant Director Joseph Pajor.

Just as the heat damage takes a toll on workers, it's also hitting the city budget, which is already stretched thin.

"I think we need to make sure the public's aware of what the situation is and what's going on and what we need to repair that we don't have funding for," said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer at today's city council meeting.

City leaders say they won't know how damaging the heat will be to the budget until the heat wave is finally over and they can assess all the damage. City Manager Robert Layton says damage to grass and plants at public parks may also be an added expense.

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