EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Let’s call it too much of a good thing.
Even though Tuesday’s rainfall was much-needed, the torrential downpours created traffic headaches for drivers making their way home during the evening commute.
Hundreds of commuters found themselves stranded on I-195 West after a portion of the highway flooded, leaving all four travel lanes impassable for hours.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) sent several maintenance trucks to pump water off of the highway.
While the highway’s drainage system worked well for the most part, a RIDOT spokesperson said that stretch specifically received “an extraordinary amount of rain.”
“Other areas had short-lived bursts, but this area had a sustained downpour,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The stretch of I-195 that flooded is currently under construction. RIDOT explained that it is required to “implement soil control measures” in all construction zones to prevent sediment from entering the state’s waterways.
“We had those measures in place,” the spokesperson said. “We had filters at our catch basins that were more than capable of handling rain under normal conditions. This rain exceeded the design capacity of the catch basins.”
RIDOT workers were seen clearing those catch basins during the height of the storm. The department also spent several hours sweeping mud and debris off the highway once the water finally receded.
The torrential downpours also left a number of roadways waterlogged, especially in East Providence.
East Providence Battalion Fire Chief Frederick MacDonald tells 12 News the department was inundated with calls for assistance both during the storm and in its aftermath.
“Everybody was caught off guard,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald said the flooding on I-195 West impacted city streets as well.
“In an effort to try and get some relief there, a lot of cars were diverted [off the highway] into East Providence, which almost gridlocked the entire city,” he explained.
The flooding was likely exacerbated by the extreme drought. The dry conditions may have prevented the ground from properly absorbing rainwater in some areas, causing it to flow into and build up on roadways, according to Chief Meteorologist Tony Petrarca.
The National Weather Service estimates that East Providence saw more than 4 inches of rainfall Tuesday.