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  • DOT crews clean up monsoon mess

    Aug 17, 2015 | Read More News
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    Road CleanupThe following details Pima County Transportation's response to a monsoon storm from August 2015. Although this particular incident happened several years ago, it accurately depicts DOT's storm response. 

    Pima County Transportation crews cleared the sediment and debris off more than 100 intersections and roads following the storms that swept through Pima County last week.

    The recent monsoon storms forced the closure of at least 10 roads, left more than 20 others as ‘proceed with caution’ zones and a number of messy roads with debris, including rocks and tree limbs, which DOT crews cleaned up before anyone could take notice. 

    “Our first line of defense is always getting the roads cleaned first,” said Joe Soto, Public Works Manager for DOT Maintenance and Operations Division. During the monsoon, DOT has staff on-call in each of the districts to monitor road conditions, address road closures and road maintenance, and assist with storm emergencies 24 hours a day. 

    The priority is always safety, but DOT crews also make it a point to minimize traffic detours. “We try to get the major roads [cleaned] first and then concentrate on the local roads. The main thing is to get the main roads cleaned up for the public so we do not interrupt their commute,” explained Soto.

    DOT separates crews into five geographical districts, covering all of Pima County, to ensure that each area has sufficient personnel to respond to emergencies triggered by the monsoon events and the cleanup that comes after. Depending on the severity of the storms, crews often work late into the night.  The Aug. 11 storm kept about six crews working until 2 a.m. near the Agua Caliente Wash. Using two graders, a loader and several dump trucks, they managed to clean out the roads that crossed the wash before the morning hours.

    closed roadTo facilitate the process of handling monsoon storms, DOT has a ‘storm team’ that works closely with the Regional Flood Control District and the National Weather Service to monitor storms as they come in and measure the rain gauges located throughout Pima County. From that information and through communication with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, DOT knows where to deploy its crews to perform safety hazard maintenance or to begin road closures. 

    “Our job is to limit the chances of the public getting washed away in the washes,” said Soto while adding that every year, people inevitably ignore the signs and road closures escalate to quick water rescues.

    In addition to scraping, sweeping and grading roads once the storms clear, DOT has a ‘super crew’ dedicated to address potholes. This crew is separate from those doing regular pavement preservation work in the county and their job is geared toward the quick repair of potholes that surface after major rain.

    To report debris on the road, erosion, potholes, or drainages clogged with debris or sediment, call DOT’s maintenance division office at 724-2639.