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ADOT working on solution to ongoing underpass flooding

Road flooding in Arizona
Posted at 10:47 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 02:05:09-04

PHOENIX — As the monsoon continues to send rain into the Valley, flooded roads are becoming more frequent, and more dangerous.

ABC15 crews spotted one man sitting on the roof of his minivan, waiting for help early Tuesday morning, after overnight storms flooded the underpass at Interstate 17 and Greenway Road.

During storms last week, several drivers were forced to abandon their cars after getting stuck in high water.

“2021 is not the year that this suddenly started happening,' said Doug Nitzel, a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

"They start to have problems when we have a lot of rain falling in a short period of time.”

“We know that the equipment that the infrastructure there along I-17, it is outmoded it is outdated," added Nitzel. "Those [pumps] date back to the mid-1960s. That’s very old equipment and it’s trying its best to keep up with the runoff and the gathering water, but it just can’t do it.”

It's why ADOT and the Maricopa Association of Governors are working on a solution.

The I-17 Regional Drainage System Project is set to replace the existing pumps, and prevent flooding.

"This will be a gravity-controlled system. So, the way that the pipelines are set in place, gravity is going to do the job of moving that storm runoff along," said Nitzel. "It’s going to be a much better system than what we certainly have had in place in the past couple of decades."

The $38 million dollar project is expected to be completed by 2022. Nitzel says new pumps are already preventing water from rising at I-17 and Peoria and Cactus roads.

Until then, Nitzel says drivers need to be cautious and avoid these intersections during and immediately after monsoon storms.

"They need to make the right decisions and again just like any location that is low lying, that underpass at I-17 and Greenway, you really shouldn’t be driving into it if the water starts to build.”