October 4th, 2006 04:29 EST
Mileground Flooding a Driving Risk
When it rains, it pours on Mileground Road in Monongalia County, West Virginia. On any given day, gray clouds can roll in and the ominous sound of thunder can be heard from miles away. Soon a serve thunderstorm will dump inches of rain water on the Mileground in just minutes. Jared Voellinger, a server at the Back Bay Seafood Restaurant located on Mileground Rd., sits in his car and inches along in the traffic waiting his turn to drive through the dark puddles that flood the roadway.
Voellinger is just one of many drivers who may be at risk for getting into a car accident or hydroplaning across the flooded region. "When it rains heavily, there gets to be about three feet of water out on the road and it is about six inches deep," says Voellinger.
Flooding in W.Va. is a serious problem according to the Monongalia County Office of Emergency Management website. "Floods and flash floods are especially common in W.Va," the site adds. In the past five years, 19 flood events, including flash floods, have been recorded in the county, according to information provided by the National Climatic Data Center's Storm Events Database.
Like many other parts of Monongalia County, Mileground Rd. is known for flooding. The road is home to many businesses and serves primarily as a commuting road to Interstate Highways 119, 705 and 857. The long windy road is utilized daily by commuters.
After a heavy rain storm, outside of the Mileground's businesses, large puddles line the roadway and traffic backs up for miles. In order to travel in the flooded road, cars from both lanes must drive in the center turning lanes.
Voellinger also warns that smaller cars could get stuck in the water.
Ron Kyle, director of the Monongalia County Office of Emergency Management, says that any time someone risks driving through a flooded roadway, there is always a chance his or her vehicle could receive water damage.
Kyle says that many people in lower elevations on the Mileground already know flooding is a problem and deal with it regularly.
Kyle believes that the major problem with flooding on the road stems from having an inadequate storm drainage system on the roadway.
"There just isn't good drainage," he explains.
While the Morgantown Utility Board/Water & Sewer (MUB) is responsible for Mileground's condition, there will not be any improvement done to the road anytime soon, explains John Gilliian, an employee at MUB. He says that the only way more sewers will be installed is if more buildings or homes are put in the area.
Gillilan explains that Monongalia County regulations set a ratio of sewers to buildings and at the current time, the Mileground does not have enough buildings to demand more sewers for the area. In the mean time, commuters can take precautions when traveling in a flooded roadway. Accidents and fatalities from driving in flooded conditions are possible.
"Of the 36 deaths due to flooding in W.Va. in the past 10 years, 22 have been the result of driving vehicles through a flooded roadway," says a statistic gathered from the Monongalia County Emergency website.
Kyle encourages drivers not to travel through a roadway that is under water. He explains that many people will think that water on a road is not very deep but it does not take very much rain to make a car hydroplane. If driving in water is unavoidable, he suggests driving slowly, turning on headlights and paying attention to the road at all times.
"On the Mileground, it's easy to hydroplane across the center line and hit another car," warns Kyle, adding, "Driving carefully is important."