Houston Transtar Flooding Innovation Recognized


Necessity is the mother of invention, they say.  But it still takes someone to come up with the solutions.

During the unprecedented flooding across wide swaths of Southeast Texas during Hurricane Harvey Houston Transtar was able to stay on top of all incoming information regarding highways, interstates and tollways impacted by rising waters, but it was the flooding on side roads in residential areas, city streets, county roads, and major suburban thoroughfares that were most endangering to residents, and there was no way to monitor where the waters were coming up or how the high on the roads evacuees needed access to the most.  Nothing.  Google maps had no information.  There was absolutely no source of information for people fleeing for their lives.

To address the life-threatening problem, Transtar and other agencies worked with Texas A & M to come up with a solution.

Transtar Executive Director Dinah Massie says Transtar coordinated with Harris County’s Flood Control District’s 170 sensors measuring rainfall at points along the waterways.  “And we said, ‘We’d like to use your data to see if we can’t figure out a way to say that based on the rainfall rate and the stream elevation it’s probably flooding on that street, and we need to warn people about that.’”

They developed a system that gauges when more than inch of rain has fallen within 15 minutes and the spillways are out of banks, then they draw a three-mile radius around the gauge.  It can reasonably be assumed that any road within three miles of the rain gauge is flooded. 

It is updated every 15 minutes on the Transtar website and app.

On November 9th Houston Transtar and the Texas A & M Transportation Institute was recognized by the Intelligent Transportation of Texas for their innovative problem solving.


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