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University Avenue floods during rainstorm

By Jessica Arp,
Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:00:20 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 20 2013 07:55:04 PM CDT

Photo courtesy Haily Pirus

Flooding at intersection of Midvale Boulevard and University Avenue.


Heavy downpours once again meant flooding on one of Madison's busiest corridors, this time during rush hour Thursday night.

But WISC-TV has learned there are no plans to alleviate the problem for another six years.

Viewers sent pictures and videos of flooding on University Avenue, near both Midvale and Shorewood boulevards. City cameras also captured traffic moving through water sometimes up to car headlights, to the point where some vehicles stall and others try to stop and turn around. This is the second time there's been a major flood on the street this year.

Whole Foods Produce Manager Brad Bohlen said the store actually flooded and closed for part of the day during heavy rains in June. Water and muck got so bad in the street at that time that the city used snowplows to clean it up.

"I don't think there's a lot of preparedness you can do for a flood like this. We can't flood-proof the building, that's for sure," said Bohlen. "We just hope it doesn't happen. We hoped after the construction on University that it wasn't going to happen anymore.

City Engineer Rob Phillips explains that 2010 construction replaced only part of a 1950s-era pipe that's not big enough to carry all the water away from the area. The replacement then was only done because of planned construction to the road in that area.

"What we need to solve the problem is to install the downstream infrastructure which is another two-thirds of a mile of pipe," said Phillips.

Phillips said though, the first phase of that project isn't scheduled until 2019.

Watch this story on Channel3000, here.

"It's a problem we're taking very seriously and we'd like to work to accelerate the schedule if at all possible," said Phillips.

"It's a tough spot, we recognize that," said Bohlen. "We're at the bottom of a bunch of big hills here, but it's also an amazingly busy corridor that needs to be kept open."

How much will this cost? The portion planned in 2019 is slated to cost $5.5 million and the rest could cost $13-15 million, all because of the amount of infrastructure in that area.

Phillips said they're also talking to Shorewood Hills officials to see if they can find the money to do the project earlier but also hope to coincide the construction with needed roadwork in the area.

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