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Road crews mindful of heat’s dangers as daily temps surpass 90s

Crews beat the heat by staying hydrated, using umbrellas
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 8:50 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Despite it being close to record-breaking temperatures for this time of year, highway workers can’t let the heat get in the way.

For the last five days, the highway department had worked in 90-plus degree weather, but that’s nothing compared to the asphalt, which is 250 degrees when it’s poured.

“The guys that are on the back of the paver, they are standing right on top of the hot asphalt all day long,” said Jim Griesbach, Marathon County Highway Commissioner.

Griesbach said it becomes very long hot days when the weather is over 90 degrees. Crews with the Marathon County Highway Department work 12-hour days in high temps. And the work keeps rolling non-stop.

“When they’re paving they’re going down the road and the asphalt comes continuously,” said Griesbach.

That doesn’t mean no breaks.

“You just have to know when enough is enough,” said Josh Passehl, Street Operator with the Marathon County Highway Department.

Passehl said they started around 6:30 in the morning.

“We keep hydrated, a lot of water, a lot of Gatorade stuff like that. we got our umbrellas as you can see on the back there. It helps with a little shade but, the breeze would be the best. which we aren’t getting much of,” said Passehl.

Beating the heat requires teamwork.

“You have to look out for your safety and the safety of the other guys as well,” said Passehl.

“We try and rotate people in and out just to get a little break from the sun,” said Griesbach.

The 300,000 tons of asphalt they lay in a day takes even longer to cool on hot days.

“On a day like today where there is a lot of sun and not a lot of breeze it takes a long time for it to cool down,” said Passehl.

Cooling down is what the crew looks forward to after long days in the heat. The highway commissioner says each summer they lay 30 miles of asphalt to keep up with road maintenance.

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