City officials working on ways to keep drivers safe from floodwaters

With a flash flood watch in place, Houston Public Works, TxDOT and local law enforcement have set up barricades near several flood-prone roads and underpasses. The barriers prevent drivers from heading directly into deep water.

Danny Perez is the Public Information Office at TxDOT. He said the barricades are called "cattle gates" and have be physically locked by field crews or law enforcement during a flash-flood event.

In an effort to increase safety warnings in these areas, TxDOT now has an initiative in place to warn drivers before they approach the blockade. 

"We're working on providing some of these areas with signals. So if there's an area with high water, there will be some sort of red flashing beacon to let folks know this is an area you might want to avoid and stay away from," Perez said.

According to Erin Jones, the Public Information Office for Houston Public Works, the city's been considering installing a mechanical arm that automatically comes down when the roads get too flooded for the last several years. 

Jones said the first automated system proposal didn't go through after the 2016 floods because of issues with cost, power failures and malfunctions. 

However, Public Works apparently received a $9.4 million federal grant called the "TIGER Grant" in March and are now in the process of getting the design of those automated flood barricades processed.

The TIGER Grant stands for "Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery." 

Jones said construction could begin sometime in 2019.

Despite these various measures to make the roadways safer, authorities note it's important for drivers to monitor road conditions before they head out the door and to always "turn around, don't drown."