News Detail

Communications March 14, 2019

Houston TranStar Flood Warning System Wins Awards

Exciting news! Houston-area motorists can now avoid high-water locations on local streets using a new flood warning feature on Houston TranStar’s real-time traffic map.

During Hurricane Harvey, first responders and the public had no conclusive information about flood conditions on local streets. While the TranStar Traffic Map uses a camera-system along freeways to detect flooded locations, no such warnings existed on local roads.

To improve safety along roadways outside the camera network, Houston Transtar partnered with the Harris County Flood Control District to take the rainfall data from the Harris County Flood Warning System’s more than 170 rain gauges around the county. When a gauge receives one inch of rain within a 15-minute period, it puts a three-mile buffer around that gauge and lights up on the map, indicating the potential for roadway flooding in that area. The area is indicated by a blue pinpoint labeled “Roadway Flooding Risk”. The warning will reset every 90 minutes until the sensor detects that the rain has slowed or stopped.

Houston TranStar and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute then overlaid the rainfall sensor data on the TranStar traffic map. This information, paired with TranStar’s real-time roadway data, helps predict which areas are at risk for localized street flooding.

The project, completed in late 2018, claimed two awards in the last two weeks, including the Texas Public Works Association’s Technical Innovation Award and the Technology Award at the Emergency Management Association of Texas’ Symposium.

“The Roadway Flood Warning System, available on TranStar’s website, enhances traveler safety in southeast Texas,” said Dinah Massie, Executive Director for Houston TranStar. “We’re grateful to both associations, and to our partners, for helping spread the word about this potentially life-saving tool.”

For roadway conditions and more information about how to Travel Smart with TranStar, click here.