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ADOT says Phoenix freeways ready for another round of heavy rain

(Cheryl Evans/The Arizona Republic via AP)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation said Phoenix’s freeways are ready for the expected rainfall from Tropical Storm Javier.

Doug Nintzel with the department said all drainage systems, catch basins and 59 freeway pumps have been inspected and are operational.

“Our technicians are ready to respond to the storms as they’re happening, especially if there are issues with individual pump stations,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of just getting to the pump stations because there can be traffic issues in trying to get there. We work closely with the Arizona Department of Public Safety to get our technicians on site as soon as possible.”

The storm is expected to move into the Phoenix area Tuesday evening and stick around through Wednesday.

Nintzel said just one freeway pump can empty the equivalent of a 30,000-gallon swimming pool in three minutes.

Just over a week ago, heavy rainfall along Interstate 17 overwhelmed three pumps at Indian School Road while a fourth pump was down for maintenance. The underpass was flooded and shut down the freeway.

Nintzel said, even with that fourth pump operating, the rainfall was so heavy it wouldn’t have made any difference. Floodwater beneath the Indian School overpass forced a closure.

“If you have two inches of rain falling in less than an hour, there could be an area where no matter what’s happening with a pump station, it’s too much water for those engines to handle,” he said. “It depends on what the storms are delivering.”

Though the pumps are ready, Nintzel said a sudden downpour could still cause some ponding.

“If it’s a system delivering steady rain, the pump stations should do quite well,” he said. “It’s when you get a downpour of two inches per hour or more that can affect the pump stations because they’re trying to keep up with a tremendous flow of water.”

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