Hwy E, Freedom, Wisconsin

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Courtesy of Presto Geosystems

Wisconsin winters are notorious for the damage they can cause to roads. An example of winter’s influence was seen on Highway E, a winding, two-lane asphalt road that serves commuters between Little Chute and Oneida. Once called the worst stretch of road in Outagamie County, it was plagued by cracking and heaving during the winter months. Similar problems occur elsewhere in the region where sub-base sand silt pockets enclosed in the state’s thick clays become highly saturated and freeze.

The speed limit on a half-mile stretch of Highway E had to be reduced from its normal 55 mph to 15 mph during the winter months. “Heaving could start as early as November and be a problem through March,” said Mike Marsden, Outagamie County Highway Commissioner. “We could tell when the frost was out of the ground in the spring because the road would flatten out. We’d put up flashing barriers and advance warning signs. It was really difficult to plow snow in the area.”

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