HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Two major roads that have been closed since the April 18 because of widespread flooding are now open to traffic, according to a statement from the Harris County Flood Control District.
Westheimer Parkway is now open between FM 1093 and South Fry Road while Clay Road is open from State Highway 6 to Brittmore Drive. The roads were impassable because of high water from the torrential rainfall that left flooded conditions in western Harris County, enough to fill the Barker and Addicks reservoirs. In order to decrease water levels in those reservoirs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District has been releasing a steady flow of storm water from the two facilities into Buffalo Bayou. The effort has eliminated standing water from neighborhoods near the two reservoirs.
Drivers are encouraged to proceed with caution on Westheimer Parkway and Clay Road since area ditches remain full of water.
The Harris County Flood Control District included the following information in the statement released on Tuesday:
ONGOING ROADWAY IMPACTS
Officials with Harris County, the City of Houston, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), and the Corps Galveston District have been closely monitoring impacts from the Tax Day Storm on area roadways and public recreation facilities. The remaining roadways that run through the Addicks and Barker reservoirs that are underwater and impassable include:
• State Highway 6 is closed from Clay Road to Park Row. TXDOT encourages motorists to use FM 529 as an alternate.
• The north-south North Eldridge Parkway is impassable from Dairy-Ashford to Clay Road.
• The east-west Groeschke Road is impassable from SH 6 to Barker-Cypress Road.
• Other internal roads in the reservoir, including Patterson Road, Bear Creek Drive and War Memorial Street, are impassable.
• All recreational facilities are closed.
• South Barker-Cypress Road from Westheimer Parkway to FM 1093 is impassable.
• All recreational facilities are closed.
Officials say sections of SH 6 and North Eldridge Parkway that have been closed for weeks should be open to traffic by this weekend, as water in Addicks Reservoir recedes from the roadways. The section of South Barker-Cypress that has been closed through the Barker Reservoir should be open sometime next week. Transportation officials will monitor conditions on those major roadways closely, and will only reopen them after they have been inspected and deemed safe for the travelling public.
NOTE: Residents should be aware that all road openings are subject to change if there is additional rainfall in north/northwest Harris County. Rainfall runoff from areas upstream of Addicks and Barker could increase the reservoirs' water levels and cause water to again submerge roadways that run through them. It will be several weeks before both reservoirs have drained all stormwater from the Tax Day Storm, and additional rainfall will lengthen that process.
BUFFALO BAYOU IMPACTS
To expedite the emptying of the reservoirs, the Corps Galveston District has increased stormwater releases to Buffalo Bayou by as much as double the normal release rates, which has caused Buffalo Bayou to flow several feet higher than normal from State Highway 6 through downtown Houston. These bayou levels have been significantly lower than the water levels on Buffalo Bayou during the April 17-18 flood.
Public recreation areas along Buffalo Bayou downstream of the dams that are being impacted by increased releases include the low-lying areas in Harris County Precinct 3's Terry Hershey Park, which is located along Buffalo Bayou from State Highway 6 to the West Sam Houston Tollway, and Buffalo Bayou Park on Buffalo Bayou between Shepherd and Allen’s Landing just west of downtown. Property owners along the bayou will also notice the higher levels.
Park users and residents who live along the bayou are urged to use caution when venturing into those parks and all areas along the bayou's banks, as there will be higher than usual bayou levels for the next several weeks:
• From State Highway 6 to Piney Point Road the bayou may be up to 5 to 6 feet above normal release levels and some low-lying trails in Terry Hershey Park will have water on them.
• From Piney Point Road to Loop 610, the bayou may be up to 4 to 5 feet above normal release levels.
• From Loop 610 to downtown, the bayou may be up to 3 to 4 feet above normal release levels and there could be water in low-lying sections of Buffalo Bayou Park.
SAFETY ALERT: RESIDENTS ARE ADVISED NOT TO DRIVE OR WALK INTO HIGH WATER ON STREETS; NOR TO BOAT OR SWIM ON BUFFALO BAYOU, OR ANY BAYOU OR CREEK FOR THAT MATTER. BAYOU AND CREEK WATER LEVELS ARE HIGH THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY AND THEIR CURRENTS ARE SWIFT AND DANGEROUS.