It may seem counter-intuitive, but the long, soaking rains of the past couple of days actually make highway conditions safer….at least in the long run.

The long drought actually has contributed to costly and sometimes dangerous road damage.

“Intense drought like we had does lead to road damage,” said TXDOT spokesman Val Lopez. “The ground does dry up, shrink, and it causes cracks along the roadway. Intense heat can buckle the concrete.”

The rainfall helps prevent the cracking and buckling. The moisture from a long, soaking rain allows the soil to expand again. So, while it slows construction of new roads, the rain helps prevent costly repairs of old roads in the long-run.

“So the rainfall is welcome,” Lopez said. “It lets the ground soak (it) in and makes our roads level. And we needed it anyway. So, it does delay our construction a little bit but we took that into account when we started our projects.”

But that’s long-term safety. During the rain, TXDOT is asking you to slow down, especially around construction sites. More than 400 Texas drivers crashed in 2011 because they failed to heed construction site warning signs, according to TXDOT records.

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