Grand Junction solutions to flooded roadway

Meteorologist Chris Guevara looks into flooding in Grand Junction.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 10:05 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - This summer’s drought can lead to flooding during heavy rainfall events in Grand Junction. While heavy rainfall can flood low-lying urban areas, it can also affect the surface of roadways that cars drive on.

There are multiple storm drains located throughout the city. However, they are also one of the easiest ways for roadways to flood. “High winds can break limbs and leaves along with debris that is on the surface. This can head to the storm drains and clog them up, preventing water from going anywhere,” said Trent Prall, Public Works Director for Grand Junction. When this occurs, continuous water on the roadways starts to flood the street.

Prall mentions that drain systems were designed to help prevent this situation from occurring. For example, the inlet system around town has vertical grates along the curb. The setup of this drain system allows water to rise and spill over the vertical grate, even with debris clogging the lower section.

According to Prall, this is one factor that helps prevent flooding from occurring on roadways, but the other is the maintenance taken to keep the drains clean and prepared. They use a two-part check system, and the first is maintenance.

“We jet and clean all the inlets in that particular basin that we are working in and all the pipes in there so that it maintains as much capacity as can be within those pipes. All the silt and sediments and the clays and so forth that get washed off the adjacent properties will come down and reduce the capacity of our infrastructure,” said Prall. He states that this method prevents additional clogging in the drains.

The second part of the two-check system is future roadways that get constructed. “Any of the new roadways we are designing, we are making sure that we have adequate capacity. So, for example, on arterial roads like Patterson Road, North Ave, First Street, I-70 B, we try to make sure that the middle three lanes are always clear of storm water, but there can be some that happens in the bike lanes, on the sidewalks and on the outside lanes,” Prall mentioned. During this process, they also ensure the new drain system can withstand an event that could happen once every ten years.

Prall mentions that floods can occur anywhere. Neighborhoods should look for new areas on their street that can get flooded and have not been a cause of concern in the past. If this happens, he mentions that you should submit a request using their website’s online Fix-It program form. If it is a big flood on the street but not life-threatening, call non-emergency dispatch.

Floods can occur anywhere and at any time, and it’s essential to be ready for an event. Being the number one natural disaster in the country, it can cause damage to structures and foundations. In addition, flooding can pick up debris, cause mudslides and clog storm drains that lead to flooded roadways. A helpful quote to remember when you are on the roads and encounter a flooded street is “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”