Buckling Highways: German Autobahns Can’t Stand the Heat
Der Spiegel, 20 June 2013
The extreme heat blanketing much of Germany over the past two days has triggered buckling in the country's famed autobahns, and in one location in Bavaria a rip in highway pavement resulted in the death of one motorcyclist and injuries to several other motorists on Wednesday.
A 59-year-old motorcyclist crashed into a guardrail Wednesday after driving over a bulge in the concrete on the highway A93, near Abensberg in the state of Bavaria, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Munich. He died on the scene from his injuries.
Four people were injured in vehicles that had driven over the ripped pavement before the motorcycle crash. Josef Seebacher, a spokesman for the local highway authority, told the newspaper Mittelbayerischen Zeitung that the rip in the highway happened within minutes. "Just 10 minutes before the accident, a monitoring vehicle had passed by," he told the paper. Temperatures in the area reached as high as 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit) Wednesday, as many areas of the country experienced their hottest day of the year.
The so-called "blow-ups" on the highway, when extreme heat causes the pavement to buckle and rip, occur in the older portions built with concrete, authorities say. Seebacher warned drivers to proceed with caution when driving on concrete sections of the highway. Repair work on the affected portion of highway A93 continued Thursday morning, according to local reports.
Other German highways were also damaged by the extreme heat Wednesday, including the A8 near Remchingen in the Karlsruhe area, the A7 in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, and the A3, A7, A92 and A94 in Bavaria.
Germany's automotive club ADAC criticized the state of Germany's highways and warned about the danger of blow-ups. A rip in the pavement only a few centimeters high can lead to disaster, Jürgen Berlitz, a specialist with ADAC said in Munich Thursday.
Forecasters were predicting extreme weather for Thursday night in parts of northern and central Germany, with thunderstorms and the possibility of tornadoes.