TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Rainwater crept up from the road to the sidewalk on Fourth Avenue in Tucson on Wednesday, July 19.
Monsoon storms rolled through downtown Tucson so fast and furiously that the city's drainage system couldn't keep up, according to Tucson Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Mike Graham.
The runoff spilled into Tucson High Magnet School's multimillion dollar turf field. The field and track were flooded under about seven to eight inches of water, school officials said Thursday, July 20.
"While the water has mostly drained away, mud and debris were left behind. We are closing the field off while we investigate the cause," Tucson Unified School District spokeswoman, Stefanie Boe, said.
Boe stated that the district is working on an alternative location for football practice, which starts Monday, July 24.
"Development standard way back was that you didn't do underground storm drain systems. That's not the standard today. Today, all developments and all new roadway projects that we do, we put in underground storm drain systems so what occurred yesterday doesn't occur," Graham said.
Various video clips on social media show the storm water overflowing the road and getting very close to storefronts.
Graham was thankful it wasn't a more severe situation.
"We don't want to see that. I know that people get stuck in washes, and we tell them and get that message out every June as part of our Operation Splash Program: Do not enter flooded washes. Turn around, don't drown," he said.
But the Fourth Avenue flooding proved problematic for the city's street car on Wednesday. It was so bad that Sun Link halted service for about 40 minutes in the late afternoon.
Sun Link General Manager Steve Bethel said it could have been a dangerous situation.
"With the flooding over the top of the rails, some debris could get into the switches, where switch points aren't lined up properly. It could cause the train to actually lift off the tracks. So for safety reasons it's paramount that we stop service until the rain subsides," he said.
Bethel said the decision to stop service is a joint judgment call. The drivers report what they can and can't see, and report it to the operations center.
Learn more about ongoing and upcoming city road projects here: http://www.rtamobility.com/Projects/tabid/74/Default.aspx