Road designs incorporate monsoon safety

Southern Arizonans rejoice over monsoon rains, until we approach a flooded roadway or intersection on our way home from the store or work and wonder if we have enough clearance to cross.

We all know we must avoid dip crossings and not enter an obviously flooded roadway, but we’ve also all driven streets in the Tucson metro area that become a primary channel for rainwater when the clouds collapse to drench our desert.

In an effort to continually improve our region’s transportation safety, every Regional Transportation Authority road corridor improvement project includes drainage planning and infrastructure.

In some cases, that means overhauling the underground drainage system, such as on the ongoing Downtown Links and Broadway Boulevard projects. Both are vastly improving underground stormwater drainage capacity to channel water away from residential areas and into retention basins, washes, or the Santa Cruz River to keep homes and businesses safe and accessible during a storm.

In other cases, it means landscape adjustments to add retention basins, such as along East Grant Rad at North Park Avenue, or channels to take water where it needs to go. Sometimes, it’s a combination of engineering strategies to divert water from the road surface to a proper drainage network.

The 20-year RTA plan, including 35 roadway corridor projects, was voter-approved in 2006 and each project is at least partially funded by a voter-approved half-cent excise (sales) tax.

To see a snapshot of the major roadway projects the RTA has completed, all of which include drainage elements, see our RTA roadway improvements map.