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Eisenhower Reopens After Flooding From Storms

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Updated 08/05/14 – 2:37 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Commuters in the western suburbs had a rough commute Tuesday morning. Flooding from Monday night’s storms shut down parts of the Eisenhower Expressway for more than four hours, and though most lanes were open by the morning rush, one lane was closed due to buckling pavement, causing a big traffic backup.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports the flooding started near the Des Plaines exit, eventually reaching as far west as 25th Avenue in Broadview.

Around 10:30 p.m., officials began closing some lanes on the Eisenhower, due to standing water on the expressway. By midnight, the Eisenhower was closed in both directions between Harlem and 1st Avenue.

All but one lane reopened by 4 a.m. The far right inbound lane remained closed near the Des Plaines exit Tuesday morning, after it buckled due to all the standing water from the storm. Crews reopened the right lane by about 2:15 p.m.

The Illinois Department of Transportation said the flooding was caused by “extremely localized rainfall,” and unrelated to similar flooding on the Eisenhower in June.

“That was a pumping station malfunction. That was unrelated to what happened last night. Last night was just what we believe at this point was a flash flood that produced an intense amount of rainfall; that, unfortunately, put a demand on our system more than it’s designed to handle.,” IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said.

Monday night, the sewer system in the area backed up onto the Eisenhower, after it became inundated with runoff from the Des Plaines River, which was rising quickly. The sewer system couldn’t handle all the water, and flooded the expressway.

IDOT officials said the sewer system would be inspected to determine if anything can be done on a long-term basis to reduce flooding.

Illinois State Police said, even after water drained off the expressway, crews had to clean two inches of mud off the asphalt.

A handful of cars ended up stranded on the flooded expressway overnight, in water that was thigh-high in some locations.

Some who didn’t want to get soaked walked on the median to try to get to a dry spot. There wasn’t much room to walk, but they preferred walking to bathing in rain water.

One witness described the traffic jam that brought things to a standstill overnight.

“We’re coming from the city, and we got about to the Harlem Avenue entrance ramp when we started seeing the traffic, and a bunch of other folks were pulling U-turns,” he said. “We figured maybe it had something to do with the rain, maybe there was a car accident, and we used to live around this area, so we knew that it floods quite a bit, and decided to go exploring, and we found this scene. So we stepped out to go check it out.”

Blue Line trains were temporarily halted between the Harlem and Forest Park stops on the Forest Park branch, due to flooding problems. Normal Service resumed around 4:15 a.m., though residual delays continued during the morning rush.

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