A public works crew spent all day pumping knee-deep flood water off Cummings Highway near I-24. It's a highly-traveled area that floods when we get a lot of rain, leaving drivers unable to reach the interstate. Ricky Colston, Director of Citywide Services, says pumping out the water is a gradual process designed to avoid flooding in nearby areas.

"We've rolled out several hundred feet of hose to a separate catch basin, a separate drainage system which is going on down line," explains Colston. "We're pumping out about 1,200 gallons per minute from each [of the two] pump."

These are the only large pumps the city owns for big jobs like this. They rent more when necessary. This same area flooded about six weeks ago and countless times before.

"Well, the water wasn't quite as high [that time]. When we started pumping, after we got set up, it took us about four and a half to five hours too get everything pumped off," recalls Colston.

He says this time it'll take a lot longer. In the end, they'll pump out more than enough water to fill an Olympic size swimming pool.

City engineer Bill Payne says a long-term solution to decrease the flooding is in the early planning stages.

"We've looked at it as both a stand along drainage project that either the city or TDOT might take on, and TDOT's also needed to look at some intersection improvements," says Payne.

He calls this area a "hot spot". There are others across the city and each one is evaluated to determine which are the highest priorities. Payne says he wants to fix the problems quickly, but money is limited.

"All of these drainage projects are funded from a separate enterprise fund that comes from the water quality fee. So there's only so much under that level of service that we can do," adds Payne.

Colston says it'll take until eight or nine o'clock Tuesday evening before the water is cleared and the following ramps are reopened: Cummings Highway onto I-24 west, and I-24 west onto Cummings Highway. In the meantime drivers will have to use the Browns Ferry exit.


UPDATE: There was much more water to pump out than expected, but Colston says the crew finished around 10 o'clock Tuesday night. Cummings Highway and all ramps to and from I-24 have been reopened.