UPDATE: Why Huntington's Viaducts Flooded for So Long

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 8/19/11 @ 6 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's normal for the viaducts in Huntington to flood when a lot of rain falls in a short period of time. What's not normal is for the water to stay for hours, creating ongoing headaches for drivers.

We headed out Friday as folks were still trying to find their way around town long after the storm.

“It's a mess,” Mary Alice Olds said.

“I was planning to turn left here, but I guess I’m not now,” John Whitmore said.

One after another, drivers in Huntington spent Friday morning detouring their way around town. What started out as major flooding swallowing cars whole -- hours later was still a nuisance.

Not only was the 8th Street viaduct closed, but also the 10th Street viaduct through the morning and lunch rush hours.

“I don't know, the city needs to do something," Olds said. "If they want us to come over here and do stuff, they need to make it easier for us to get places."

Olds lives in Ohio, but comes to Huntington to do everything, and these unscheduled detours are maddening.

But, not everyone was taking the detour. Some made a run for it, while others chickened out at the last minute.

Angela Taylor didn't have to worry about driving around or through high water, but walking through the mess wasn't much better.

“I've got on flip flops," Taylor said. "I don't have tennis shoes. It was very messy. It should be fixed. People have to get to work. Some drive, and it's a big inconvenience. They should do something.”

WSAZ.com's Carrie Cline took all of these frustrations to Huntington City Hall where she asked for answers.

“What do you think the problem is? It’s not normal for the viaducts to stay high for this long,” Cline asked

“No, probably just a stopped drain and workers going to check it out,” Huntington Public Works Director David Hagley said.

And they did. When we checked back, a street sweeper and pump truck were cleaning up at 8th Street for a short-term fix. But, we asked Hagley about the long haul.

“It's a capacity issue," he said. "Those things are so old, and the drainage has not kept up with the development in the city.”

In the meantime, Hagley says residents can help by keeping the streets clean of debris, grass clippings and leaves. Those things clog the drains and only create headaches like what happened Friday.

The viaducts finally reopened around noon Friday, nearly nine hours after they closed.

UPDATE 8/19/11 @ 1 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After being shut down for several hours following an overnight downpour, all of the viaducts in Huntington are back open.

Shortly before 1 p.m., crews were taking the road blocks away from the 8th Avenue viaduct and traffic was starting to flow.

The viaducts flooded after a heavy rain around 4 a.m.

UPDATE 8/19/11 @ 8:15 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Three of Huntington’s five viaducts are back open after heavy rain pounded parts of the city overnight.

The 8th and 10th Street viaduct remained closed at 9 a.m.

A flooded car still needs to be removed the 8th Street viaduct.

Water has also receded on a number of other streets that experienced flooding.

The storm hit about 3:15 a.m.

ORIGINAL STORY 8/19/11 @ 3:59 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- 911 Dispatchers tell WSAZ.com several Huntington viaducts are flooded at this hour because of heavy rains.

The viaducts at 1st and 8th Street are confirmed to be flooded. Crews are out putting up barricades to stop traffic from entering them.

Dispatchers say the 20th and 16th Street viaducts will likely see high water as well.

Drivers should exercise extreme caution around the viaducts, or avoid them all together.

Never drive through high water.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more information.

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