Q&AZ: Should drivers worry about leaking water in the Deck Park Tunnel on I-10 in Phoenix?

By Nate Engle
Published: Monday, February 5, 2024 - 8:46am
Updated: Monday, February 5, 2024 - 8:51am

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gates cover the entrance to the center of interstate 10 tunnel
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
The empty space in the center of Interstate 10's Deck Park Tunnel was originally intended to be a bus express lane and station.

Dripping water has plagued drivers in the Deck Park Tunnel on Interstate 10 in downtown Phoenix since it first opened to traffic in 1990.

Through KJZZ’s Q&AZ reporting project, a few listeners wanted to know why there's always dripping water and whether it has an effect on the structural integrity of the tunnel itself.

Doug Nintzel with the Arizona Department of Transportation explained that the reason there's water dripping into the tunnel is because the tunnel is located underneath Margaret T. Hance Park — and its irrigation system. He also said that sometimes it's caused by overflow from rain storms.

As for the structural integrity of the tunnel, the Deck Park tunnel is made up of 19 separate bridge structures that ADOT inspects due to federal requirements every two years to ensure structural integrity.

"If any problems were to be identified, we certainly would act upon that. And we're always looking to work with the city [of Phoenix] on things that we might be able to do in the future," he said.

The fact that the tunnel is really a bunch of bridges side-by-side means that it technically isn't a tunnel, but it's just easier to call it a tunnel.

Nintzel also says that the water is a nuisance for more than just Phoenix drivers, but ADOT itself.

"The water really is more of a nuisance issue for both drivers at times, but also for ADOT in the fact that we have to work on protecting things like the electrical systems that control lighting and the vents that operate in the tunnel," he said.

In addition to being a landmark recognized by just about every Phoenix resident, the Deck Park Tunnel is also historic — it was the last section of the I-10 to be completed in order to connect Santa Monica, California, to Jacksonville, Florida.

Rush hour traffic heads into the westbound tube of the Deck Park Tunnel, July 2020.
Scott Bourque/KJZZ
Rush-hour traffic heads into the westbound tube of the Deck Park Tunnel during July 2020.

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