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City of Bryan to enhance local alerts during heavy rainfall, utilizing $180,000 grant

Flood Gauge
Posted at 4:08 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 19:33:51-04

BRYAN, TEXAS — Flash flooding is a big problem this time of year and it can make traveling dangerous, but thanks to a grant from the state Flood Infrastructure Fund, the City of Bryan will soon have a way to send alerts about roads that are at risk of flooding.

Bryan City staff say Texas is in the top 5 for flood-related deaths and they hope this new technology will help save lives.

The City of Bryan received a $180,000 grant from the state flood infrastructure fund, which according to the City of Bryan's website, "The Flood Infrastructure Fund was approved by Texas voters in 2019 and is administered by the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Department of Emergency Management and the Texas General Land Office."

"They notified us that our project was something that they considered valuable, so we submitted our second application, our final application back in September. We were notified in December 2020 that our project was approved for funding," Sam Vernon, Assistant City Engineer for the City of Bryan said.

The City will use the money to help fund a 450,000 dollar project to install a flood early warning system. New technology that will warn about potential flooding using sensors on flood-prone roads.

"Once these sensors detect that water is getting close to the roadway, they will activate signals very similar to what you see in school zones in the mornings," Vernon added.

Bryan resident Hayden Garner is happy to hear the news.

"I drive a pretty low car... So, you know if it's one of those problem areas, it would be nice to know 'hey don't go through here... Find another route... avoid flooding your car,' It would be really good," Garner, a Bryan resident said.

Garner believes it will not only help motorists but also residents who, like himself, live near flood-prone areas.

"Sometimes we have this retention ditch back here and it (water) will come all up even over the ditch into the yard and even up to the house one time. I know during [Hurricane] Harvey this was one of the homes that flooded," Garner added.

Project Manager Sam Vernon says city staff will initially get texts alerting them of potential flooding, but they hope to expand that line of communication.

"To be able to send out texts to citizens that maybe are part of the reverse 911 system or we may set up some type of notification system and may even be able to look at an app or on the city website to see instantaneous updates," Vernon added.

Another feature the sensors will have is the ability to examine rainfall and collect rainfall data, which Vernon says, will give staff real-time information about storm intensity and how effective their drainage system really is.

"We do have some spots where want to see how our infrastructure and creek system responds to rainfall," Vernon added.

The city has already identified several locations that will receive the system, including Old Reliance Road at Carter's Creek, Villa Maria Road at Burton Creek, and Oak Ridge Dr at Barak Lane, but not all locations have been finalized.

The City says the primary goals of this initiative are to enhance safety by providing advanced warning of floodwater over roads, improve efficiency by using mobile alerts to direct city crews to specific crossings and collect and analyze real-time data for development and floodplain management.

Contracts have been approved by Bryan City Council and construction for the sensors is planned to begin this fall.