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Flooded Highways Frustrate Metro Detroit Drivers

When heavy rains pummeled Southeast Michigan recently, they left flooded highways and frustrated drivers in their wake. With I-75 and the Lodge under water, Metro Detroit residents are looking for someone to blame.

Over 4 inches of rain fell on Metro Detroit on Thursday, August 29, 2016. All that rain flooded highways and caused problems for drivers across Southeast Michigan.

By 8:30 a.m., I-75 was already closed. Police closed southbound I-75 at Clay Street, causing a 10 mile back up stretching back to the 14 Mile Road exit. Flooding had forced traffic onto the shoulders in some places, and left others entirely impassable until shortly after noon. Police also responded to several accidents in the area as drivers attempted to contend with the flood waters.

The Lodge Freeway (M-10) did not fare even that well. At 4:00 p.m. the northbound lanes of the tunnel below the Cobo Center was still closed, covered with a mix of rain water and sewage.

The flooded highways left drivers looking for someone to blame. The Michigan Department of Transportation was a logical place to start. But MDOT’s Diane Cross told CBS Detroit the department couldn’t be held responsible for acts of nature:

“People need to realize, we’ve had so much rain that the ground has absorbed all it can. . . . There’s nowhere for this water to go, and then it goes to the lowest spot — and a number of our freeways are below ground, so it goes down onto our roadways.”

She also told the Free Press that the water below Cobo was draining slowly in part because the deep sewage was making it unsafe for MDOT workers to go in and clear the drains.

But the City of Detroit doesn’t appear to be satisfied with that answer. It issued a news release blaming MDOT for failing to clear clogged catch basins:

“Clogged catch basins from leaves can also result in blocked basins that encourage flooding of streets. As the rain volume decreases and basins are cleared, the standing water will recede,” the release said. “Today’s flash flooding is a reminder that residents and businesses can minimize street flooding by ensuring leaves, twigs, grass clippings and other debris are cleared from the street and in front of their property. Left remaining on the street, these items will clog the catch basins that cause flooding. DWSD encourages residents and businesses to use rakes, shovels and brooms to remove the debris and place in a proper refuse bag.”

Regardless of where the blame lies, one thing is clear: flooded highways aren’t safe for driving. If you come across one, turn back. Trying to drive through a flooded road could cause your car to stall and leave you stranded. As much as a detour may seem time consuming, that delay is nothing compared to what could happen if you decide to take the chance.

David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. If you have been injured in a flood-related auto accident, contact Christensen Law today to schedule a free consultation.