News10NBC investigates: Why did I-490 flood so much overnight?

June 20, 2019 05:25 PM

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) -- There was a real danger on I-490 in Brighton overnight. So much rain fell in a short period of time that giant pools of water flooded all but one of the lanes on the highway. 

New York State Department of Transportation traffic data shows more than 100,000 cars and trucks drive the flooded part of 490 in Brighton every 24 hours. 


Early Thursday morning, at least two of the lanes of I-490 in the direction of downtown were under a pool of water. It was so deep in some parts, the water reached the knees of the Brighton firefighters. 

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Why do you think the water pooled like it did overnight?"

Jordan Guerrein, NYS DOT Region 4 spokesman: "Well, when you have an intense amount of rain like we did overnight and early this morning, what some call flash flooding, it can [be caused by] debris, gravel, grass, loose items in the road to clog those inlets and that can cause that flash flooding."

Brean: "How much rain are those drains designed to take?"

Guerrein: "Typically, they're pretty deep. But again in incidents of flash flooding and a large amount of rain accumulating over a short period of time, that can certainly cause issues for us."

Our video shows at least one car crashed near one of the pools of water. The rest of the traffic had to squeeze through one lane as the firefighters tried to unclog the drains. 

Brean: "And where's the vacuum? Is it that?"

Guerrein: "It's this big pipe that goes in."

Brean: "Oh, that thing."

Guerrein showed me a video of the machine the NYS DOT uses to clean the drains. The video shows a high-powered vacuum cleaning a drain on the Inner Loop.

Guerrien says the DOT cleans drains along the highway every week but he could not pinpoint when the drains along I-490 in Brighton last cleaned. 

Brean: "How do you warn drivers that there was a condition like that?"

Guerrein: "So everyone should have received, if your signed up for emergency alerts, people would receive those on their phones this morning that there was a flash flood warning."

The DOT says you can get alerts about road closures if you go to

News10NBC is going to pay close attention to the area of I-490 in Brighton the next time we get heavy rains. We'll see if it floods and what kind of warnings drivers get. 


Berkeley Brean

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