MDOT workers trying to stay cool in dangerously high temperatures

How high temps make MDOT crews’ job tricky

DEARBORN, Mich. – The best thing to do in this heat is to stay inside in the air conditioning, but for many workers like construction crews, that’s simply not an option.

In Dearborn, Michigan’s Department of Transportation crews are working on a new curb and gutter on Telegraph Road, north of I-94, and they’re on a deadline.

Matt Hickman, Assistant Construction Engineer for MDOT, said the work for this project doesn’t stop in extreme heat. It just gets more challenging.

“Days like this are especially challenging,” said Hickman. “They’re challenging on the crews. They’re challenging on the project as a whole,” Hickman said.

While construction workers are no stranger to working in the summer sun, the excessive heat takes working conditions to the next degree.

“The concrete that’s coming out of that truck is actually giving off heat as it began its curing process,” Hickman said. “So even standing next to it and standing next to a machine that is running on an engine can be hotter than working, just standing in direct sunlight.”

The hotter the conditions, the faster crews have to work.

“We want to make sure that the contractor is placing curing compound on this newly formed curb as soon as possible because the sun is wanting to evaporate the water out of this concrete at a much faster rate on a hot day like today,” Hickman said.

Then there are the materials like concrete that can’t get too hot.

Hickman said they got word the last concrete truck of the day would be around 1 p.m.

“Given that the temperatures are getting so high, we’re actually running the risk of exceeding the concrete temperature limit that allows it to be placed,” Hickman said.

Hickman said keeping cool is a team effort to get their job done.

“We’re taking precautions to take over for one another, take a break, drink some water, get in the shade, get a chance to come back refreshed.”

With the temperatures and humidity so dangerously high, crews fear that they will be unable to finish the concrete work they have planned for later in the week.

About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.