Take a look into the underground world of MDOT

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jan 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-12 00:16:12-05

(WXYZ) — It's the underground world of MDOT and 7 Action News reporter Jennifer Ann Wilson is taking you inside.

Flooding on freeways can be treacherous, which is why MDOT has more than 100 stations pumping water off the freeways, with technology and crews ensuring they work properly every minute of every day during this weekend storm.

While you’re driving through rain and sleet falling hard and fast, threatening to fill up metro Detroit freeways, there are people and pumps working underground to make that treacherous drive safer.

"We’re hitting at a 100 percent," says Kevin Gunn with the Wayne County Bridge Department.

Wayne County crews are contracted by MDOT to maintain the 122 pump stations in Wayne County tasked with preventing freeway flooding. There are 140 pump stations in metro Detroit.


It starts in the sump pump room.

"It’s coming in off the road right here, that circular thing is the inlet tunnel where all the water comes in and the trash is collected in the trash racks," says Gunn.

The water is then carried from the sump room to the pump room.

"Right now, you can hear this humming which means this motor is running. When you come in here and you don’t hear any humming? Bad news," says Gunn.

Five pumps at this Dearborn M-39 station rotate the work to prevent burn out, each carrying storm water from the road into the rushing waters of the Rouge River.

New technology helps monitor all the pump stations in the system 24/7, so if something goes wrong with the pump station crews are alerted immediately.

Even with that technology, today, crews are visiting each pump station in person to ensure every pump is oiled and working properly, ready for a long weekend of work ahead.

If the power goes out, crews are on standby with generators to ensure pumps keep pumping and our roads don’t turn into rivers.

The little flooding on freeways we've seen so far today is due to trash clogging the storm drains according to MDOT, because their 140 metro Detroit pump stations are all up and working.