Flooded Metro Detroit roads mostly cleared

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Expressway closures brought early Tuesday morning commuters to a slow crawl as they negotiated detours and standing water on roads that remained open after a deluge of rain overnight.

More than a half-dozen spots were closed early Tuesday along the major metro Detroit expressways, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. Most have since reopened, according to the department's traffic map, which showed one right-lane closure just after 1:15 p.m. on northbound M-39 at Joy Road.

Water floods southbound M-10 just north of Michigan Avenue on Tuesday morning in Detroit.

Vehicles trapped by flooding at M-10 and I-75 earlier Tuesday were ramped off the expressway onto Bagley, MDOT said in a brief statement shortly after 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, both directions of M-10 at Jefferson/Cobo Hall were closed due to complete tunnel flooding, according to MDOT.

The closures came in the wake of heavy rain from around midnight to early Tuesday morning, said Sara Schultz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

"It's right around 2 inches around that Detroit and Wayne County area," Schultz said. Riverview tipped the scales with an area-high of 2.54 inches, she added.

"The higher totals are up in Midland and into the thumb area," Schultz said. "They've had around three inches up there."

The rain is not quite over yet.

"We'll get some rain here through out the morning but we're not looking at the heavy stuff like we just had," Schultz said. "We'll be slowly winding down here (and then) a little bit tomorrow, less than a half inch. Nothing like this morning."

A flooded portion of the Lodge Freeway near Howard is seen in Detroit.

Schultz had one simple piece of advice for commuters facing the wet roads Tuesday.

"Don't drive through flooded roads. Turn around, don't drown," she said, quoting a weather service public safetly campaign. "That's why we promote that, because people still do it."

Cross elaborated on the dangers of driving through flooded roadways, even familiar roads commuters travel every day.

"You can't see what's underneath (the water). Maybe the road is washed away under there, maybe there's a missing manhole cover, maybe a previous car dropped a bumper," she said. "We recommend to drivers that they pay attention to the weather, leave early and they need to know not to drive through the standing water."

Standing water also can hide from view any debris washed down from higher land into below-ground level expressway, Cross said.

"It’s not worth it to risk endangering yourself, your vehicle or others," she said.

As Tuesday progresses, MDOT crews will be busy clearing roadways of debris and checking on pump houses to ensure they're ready to remove standing water from the expressways, Cross said. It may take some time, especially with more rain forecasted Tuesday to fall upon already saturated grounds.

"We're expecting more rain but the bathtub's full; the drains are full," Cross said. "It'll be about time and power and patience."

Tuesday's messy roads came a little more two years after torrential downpour led to widespread flooding through out the Metro Detroit area. The Aug. 11, 2014, rainstorm caused severe flooding on major freeways and in residential basements, bring the tri-county area to a standstill and causing millions of dollars in damage.

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