Blocked drain causes Downtown Expressway flooding

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-22 23:50:56-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - An unexpected wrench was thrown into commuter’s travel plans on Thursday afternoon. That's when thousands of gallons of water pooled on the Downtown Expressway in a flash after a fast-moving storm moves through our area putting drivers at risk.

“Well we had a sudden rainstorm. The intensity was pretty high,” says the RMA’s Dave Caudill. “We had partial obstruction and we just couldn’t move that much water off of the bridge.”

The culprit of the blockage? A beer can, plastic bag, water bottles and a license plate blocking a drainage pipe meant to carry water not garbage.

Caudill says, “If this garbage lands on one of the drains. It will seal it up and the water can’t escape.”

The flooding lasted but a few minutes and traffic started moving smoothly just in time for Thursday’s afternoon commute. The RMA’s Dave Caudill says the culmination of lots of water and small amounts of trash can cause the perfect storm.

“We find that it is the trash that causes the biggest issue,” says Caudill. “We have the drain capacity down there but when those drains get clogged up you lose that capacity and that is when the water backs up.”

About 50 to 60 thousand cars and trucks use the Downtown Expressway every day. With so much traffic comes a lot of trash. Crews clean up the roadway and gutters every two months.

VDOT’s Sundra Hominik says trash in the roadways poses hazards for everyone behind the wheel.

“Littering is never a good idea,” Hominik says. “We need a little help from the public not to throw those things out of the car because when they do it can mean problems for everyone down the road.”

A flash flood and traffic nightmare. A scenario that could have been prevented if drivers weren’t so careless with their garbage.

The RMA’s Dave Caudill says, “Yeah I wish they wouldn’t. Just discard of it in a proper location then we won’t have problems like we had (Thursday).”

VDOT crews were out on the downtown expressway cleaning up more garbage Friday afternoon.