Portable Roadway High Water Detection System for Driver Safety and Infrastructure Assessment

The dense road networks and numerous low water crossings throughout Texas may be contributing to the higher recurrence rates of floods. These low-water crossings pose an immediate danger to motorists that try to cross during flooding conditions. It is at these crossings where most motor vehicle-related flood fatalities happen. In fact, recent research shows that about 77% of flood fatalities in Texas are vehicle-related (Sharif et al. 2010). Hence, this study aims to evaluate the functioning of existing flood warning systems in Texas during Hurricane Harvey and devise a portable high water detection based on the Weigh-In-Motion (WIM) technology that can serve as the core of a road flood warning system and record data on the flood depth and duration and passing vehicles that can be used, in conjunction with other post-event data, to evaluate the impact of flooding on the road integrity. This research is highly interdisciplinary and will bring together researchers from multiple fields including civil engineering, hydrometeorology, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering for successful implementation of the project. This project will address a dire need to improve the ability to assess and reduce the impacts of severe weather events on the transportation infrastructure and travelers’ safety.