How transportation crews ensure driver safety during monsoon

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Every year, monsoon deals road and transportation crews a different hand every single day. 

"It's very challenging, but we start preparations a couple of months ahead," Tucson Department of Transportation's Shawn Moore said.

From flooded streets to damaged roads, to the possibility of flash floods, Moore explained days during the season can be extremely hectic.

"You clock in, and the next thing you know is that it's 10 hours later and you're heading home," he said.

TDOT crews are responsible for monitoring about 150 dip crossings, as well as four to five major washes in town, according to Moore. When a road has about six inches of water flowing on it, he explained in most cases, they'll close the road.

"Depending on the size of the vehicle, I mean you've got motorcycles, cyclists, very small vehicles. Six inches of water that's flowing pretty good that can push a car off the road," Moore said.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Department of Transportation has another beast to deal with: dust storms. One area in particular of major concern is a stretch of I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix that they call "the dust zone."

It's a short stretch between Eloy and Picacho, where the most dust-related accidents have occurred in the past five years.

"That dust will come through here," ADOT's Tom Herrmann said. "And suddenly you won't be able to see a thing."

Forty-three of 83 dust-related accidents happened in the dust zone since 2012, Herrmann said.

"There's very little except dust in this area," he said. "So when the storm comes in, it puts out dust in front of it, that picks up the dust in the desert here and it blows it right across this section of freeway."

Like TDOT, ADOT constantly monitors storm conditions during the season to try and ensure driver safety. 

"We're certainly paying as close attention as we can to try and make sure that when we know, something is going to be a problem,  before you as a driver know it," Herrmann said. "If you can't see and you can't drive, we don't want you on the freeway."

By 2018, Herrmann explained ADOT hopes to have a dust detection system in place to help warn drivers of poor conditions ahead of the storms.

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