Tough Questions: I-475 Prone To Flooding, Why - WNEM TV 5

Tough Questions: I-475 Prone To Flooding, Why?

A stretch of local highway spent part of this weekend looking more like a pond than pavement. Interstate 475 was a mess a few weeks ago, and after another blast of rainy weather, it's happened again.

So TV5 is Asking The Tough Questions to find out what's behind the problem, and what -- if anything -- is being done to make sure this doesn't happen again.

The Michigan Department of Transportation says what's going on at a pumping station above the roadway is responsible for the flooding. They say lightning caused the first pump failure, and then it happened again. Now they're trying to patch it up.

"A power pole was knocked down, [and] caused power to go out," said MDOT engineer Gregg Brunner. "Our pumps couldn't run in the pump station."

TV5's Tia Ewing asked MDOT if there was a backup generator to make sure future flooding doesn't occur. Until a week ago the answer was no, but after the first problem, they brought in a generator from Detroit.

"For the size generator we needed for this one, there's only one in the state," said Brunner. "Since it's kind of an older model, we are looking to retro fit it and see if it will work at this location."

The pump station contains four large pumps, and they've been on the job since the interstate opened for traffic in 1970. But Brunner said they never had any major problems with it before.
"Up until a few weeks [ago], that was the first instance," said Brunner. "We've had smaller problems before, but none that required us to get a generator."

MDOT said it hope to have the generator online by end of the month, before Mother Nature strikes again, and it is considering the purchase of a completely new generator to alleviate the problem.

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