Schuylkill Floods Again, Crews to Inspect Drainage System for 2nd Time

For the second time in two months the same portion of the busy interstate flooded, causing lane closures and delays

Flooding along a busy stretch of the Schuylkill Expressway, in the same area where standing water led to a deadly accident two months ago, caused traffic headaches once again on Monday.

The right lane and shoulder of the I-76 eastbound near Montgomery Avenue were closed around 9 a.m. on Monday because of standing water.

Charles Metzger, a PennDOT spokesman, said Monday's issue was relatively short lived with crews being able to clear the water quickly. The highway reopened about an hour later, just before 10 a.m.

Metzger said a combination of heavy rain and melting snow may have overwhelmed the drainage system this time around.

The flooding happened in the same area where Pennsylvania State Police say standing water led to a deadly multi-vehicle pileup in late November 2013.

In that crash, a 47-year-old man was killed after a driver hit a pool of water in the westbound lanes of the highway and lost control, state police said. That resulted in a chain reaction crash that shut down the road for most of the day.

Officials were also forced to shut down the eastbound lanes of the highway that day because of the ponding water.

A Bigger Issue?

While not as severe or prolonged as the November flooding, Monday's incident raises questions about drainage in that section of the busy highway.

Metzger said crews did a visual inspection of the drainage pipe following the first problem and could not find any issues.

However, he says there could be a problem they don't know about further down the pipe, which runs under the highway, a set of freight train tracks and Martin Luther King Drive before dumping into the Schuylkill River.

Those issues could include a "partial obstruction" from debris or tree roots, or even a collapse of one portion of the pipe, Metzger said.

PennDot plans to further inspect the drainage pipe to try and locate an issue. If no blockage is found, the transportation department might take a look at the area around the highway to try and uncover the potential source of the flooding, Metzger said.

Further west near Conshohocken, Pa., about 9 miles from flooding site, crews are shoring up the rock face that affronts the highway -- which has also been prone to major flooding in the past. They're also installing better drainage in that area to prevent further issues.

Metzger said it is possible that, if warranted, similar changes could be put into place in the area of Montgomery Drive.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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