Why Interstate 494 flooded at Penn Avenue - KMSP-TV

Why Interstate 494 flooded at Penn Avenue

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Flash flooding forced dozens of commuters off of Interstate 494 in Richfield, Minn., on Monday night, detouring drivers on to Penn Avenue after standing water shut down the freeway for hours.

Normally, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is excellent at explaining traffic jams on camera, but they declined to speak about Monday's flooding. MnDOT officials did confirm that the backup started at a pump station and took about 5 minutes to fix, but they weren't saying much else on Tuesday even though residents in the area are buzzing about it.

"I was kind of anticipating a little bit of a puddle jump, and I'm always up for a good puddle," Bruce Widmer, who was among the commuters who got stuck, admitted.

Widmer's usual commute to and from work is about an hour, but he said traffic was backed up for several miles.

"A little over 2 hours from door to door," he said. "For westbound traffic, it was from the airport to Penn Avenue -- and the eastbound side, it was from Penn Avenue to about 169, maybe Highway 212."

MnDOT representatives told Fox 9 News a circuit breaker at a pump station is to blame for the backup, and they say the electric issue was caused after a deluge of rain hit the metro at about 6 p.m.

"Never would've thought it was a circuit breaker at a pump station," Widmer said. "I just kind of assumed we got too much rain too quick."

Andrew Williams watched the backup from his apartment window, and it brought back some memories.

"Last time I saw anything like that was the super storm of '87," he said.

Williams told Fox 9 News that initially, he wondered if the elevation change on the freeway may have had anything to do with it.

"Out back here, the complex has a decline that goes to it and I'm thinking maybe the rain came off of the frontage road onto the freeway," Williams said.

Nothing about the elevation level was addressed by MnDOT.

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