McKenzie underpass floods leading to morning commuter chaos

WatchIt was a familiar and frustrating morning for commuters on the Trans-Canada Highway. The new Mckenzie underpass proved to be no match for the heavy rains that hit the region overnight. Flooding reduced the traffic flow to little more than a crawl. Mary Griffin tells us more about what happened and why.

It’s now smooth sailing for traffic through the McKenzie underpass.

But during the morning rush hour, heavy rains flooded the area at the interchange, resulting in traffic mayhem.

READ MORE: Drivers shaving off time after free flowing traffic allowed at McKenzie Interchange

“It was just one long line of cars, right? Where our bus enters the highway at Veterans Memorial.  It took probably a good ten minutes or fifteen just to get off Veterans onto the highway,” commuter Denise McGeachy said.

McGeachy commutes on the bus from Langford to downtown Victoria. Her thirty-minute daily routine stretched into 90 on Tuesday morning.

“You know, I stopped looking at my clock because I was so late,” McGeachy said.

Her bus was one of thousands of vehicles caught in the gridlock. The overnight rain impacted the temporary drainage system put in place during construction. Janelle Staite, regional deputy director, Ministery of Transportation, said the resulting water was too much for the temporary system.  As a result, water spilled over onto the highway.

“This morning the temporary measures that we had in place were overwhelmed.  Just too much water.  So we actually had to bring in some pumper trucks this morning that required the use of one of the southbound lanes to be able to pump some of the excess water out of the lanes that were overwhelming the system,” Staite said.

READ MORE: Province says McKenzie Interchange pooling a result of incomplete drainage work

Fifteen millimetres of rain fell overnight, according to the nearest weather station in Esquimalt near the McKenzie overpass. Eighty millimetres of rain fell the first week in January, more than half the monthly average.

“Right now we do have temporary measures in place, but ultimately for the end of the project those permanent measures will be in place and easily able to manage the water that is expected on site.”

The project is built to withstand a 200-year storm event. But with more rain in the forecast, the pumper trucks will remain in place to avoid a repeat.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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