Editorial: Dickinson underpass getting uglierOn Aug. 5 emergency officials parked their cars across the road in front of the Third Avenue West underpass in Dickinson.
On Aug. 5 emergency officials parked their cars across the road in front of the Third Avenue West underpass in Dickinson.
There were two reasons for this: They didn’t want anyone to drive into the 7 feet of water collected there and they were waiting for the car to emerge that was swallowed up in the drink.
Fortunately, the woman whose car was submerged managed to get out and jump into someone else’s vehicle and ride off safely. No one was injured, besides a car that probably didn’t fair too well.
This is not the first time the underpass has flooded. It’s been happening for years and this won’t be the last time.
Anytime there is significant rainfall this lowland area fills up — and fast. There are gates on each side to stop traffic but either they are not being closed quickly enough or are being disregarded.
Firefighters and other emergency officials have had to harness up to rescue stranded motorists.
It’s to the point that some residents go to look at it when it rains, like somewhat of a tourist attraction for non-tourists.
To others, they hear that the underpass is flooded again and it’s, “eh, what’s new.”
However, this last time children of ages likely between 10 and 12 donned their swimming suits and were jumping from the train bridge into the temporary pond before they were chased off.
Those familiar with the area know not to drive through there after heavy rain, though some have attempted without success. Likely many have attempted with success.
There are a lot of new faces in town who don’t know of the danger that this underpass creates.
The city is a heck of a lot bigger than it was 10 years ago, five years ago, one year ago.
A motorist may also be stuck in the underpass unwillingly. They may be the unlucky one caught behind a red light at what’s become a busy intersection.
The other worrisome piece of this mess is if another disaster happens to occur at the same time. And that’s usually how it works, it all comes at once.
Say a powerful storm causes the underpass to flood and there is an emergency on the south side of town also because of this storm, maybe a lightning bolt starts a fire or a home is damaged because of high wind. Getting there could be a challenge.
Obviously emergency crews couldn’t use the underpass. The only other options are via two streets that are on the opposite side of the railroad tracks. These tracks are often blocked with railcars and oil tankers. It may seem farfetched that there could be a storm, an overflowing underpass and blocked tracks. It’s not. The underpass has been flooded and tracks full. Ask the frustrated drivers who have had to sit there.
Not only is this underpass a danger, it’s eating up resources. The city’s emergency departments are called out and city workers have the task of cleaning the muck from the road and opening up the drains once the water recedes.
The city needs a plan. Though there have been no injuries, it seems it’s an accident waiting to happen.
Publisher Harvey Brock and Managing Editor Jennifer McBride sit on The Press Editorial Board. Press staff members contributed to this editorial.