Flooded Roads Created by Frozen Creeks in Duluth

Crews use heavy machinery to break ice.

DULUTH, Minn.- Sometimes clearing flooded roads isn’t as simple as removing the water or unclogging a nearby storm drain or culvert.

A harsh winter can cause water backup in another way.

Duluth Public Works crews arrived to deal with about 10 inches water on 88th Avenue West.

They found the drain didn’t take much unplugging, the big issue was the frozen Morgan Park Creek, next to the road.

“In a lot of cases out storm sewers are actually open and flowing, but with all the snow and ice the water can’t get into the storm sewers,” said Chris Kleist, Utility Operations Supervisor with Public Works.

“So we’re actually clearing ice from those areas, the inlets and the outlets, to ensure that that rain can also enter the storm sewer and leave the storm sewer.”

So they brought out the heavy machinery.

Crews used a Walking Excavator, which they call a Spider, to climb down onto the frozen creek and break the ice, allowing the water to flow freely.

“This one actually has articulating legs that can move out as well as extend and retract, y’know longer and shorter, to allow us to work on odd slopes or on different terrain,” Kleist said.

Workers told us they don’t know of many other cities who have this piece of equipment.

They hope it will help after this week’s rain and warm temperatures.

According to Kleist, while it is kind when neighbors clear storm drains and catch basins, they should only do so when it’s safe.

Anything needing more than a quick hand shovel, should be left for the experts.

He said you can help more by reporting obstructed ones through their 24-hour emergency phone line: 218-730-4000.

They’ll have staff standing by as the weather worsens.

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