Flooding on US 60: ADOT says highways can handle monsoon storms

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by Marie Saavedra

azfamily.com

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 6:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 12:18 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It was a rainy drive Sunday morning heading down the US 60. Many expected street flooding, but not highway flooding. Right around Mill Avenue, all lanes were covered with water; practically a washout. To find out an explanation, we started by asking ADOT what is supposed to happen when we see our monsoon rains.

"Just about every mile, the water is draining into the drainage system, taken into the pump stations, so these pumps can then deliver the water away from the freeway," said ADOT Spokesman Doug Nintzel.

But he admits that didn't happen here. He gave us a look inside a nearby pump station, where crews found the problem down a dark pipe.

"There was debris inside the pump station itself, and that was affecting the automated system to tell the pumps to turn on," he said. Normally these pumps can pull 22,000 gallons of water a minute from the roadway, but litter like Styrofoam cups and other trash runs off the freeway and into the drains. That makes it tough for the system to know how high the water was. And so, it flooded.

How does ADOT fight the problem? They vacuum out trash once a year, and in trouble spots after problems.

"We have to work as hard as we can to keep debris from gathering into the system. Sometimes you're going to be in a situation where you just either missed it or it was just very recent," said Nintzel.

Should they vacuum more often? ADOT says it would still be hard to ensure that similar flooding wouldn't happen again

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