City of Amarillo installs floodgates at dangerous underpasses
We've seen it happen a few times in the Panhandle just this past week - dangerous flash flooding on the roadways. It's been an issue the City of Amarillo has been trying to address for years. Now, with new floodgates, commissioners hope fewer drivers find themselves up a creek in a flooded underpass.
"When you can't see the base of the roadway, do not drive through standing water," said Amarillo City Commissioner Dr. Brian Eades. "It can be very deceiving."
Deceiving and dangerous, as flooding at the underpass on Tenth Street in Amarillo claimed the life of an Amarillo teenage boy eleven years ago inn 2002.
"It was not apparent when it was raining heavy and you're driving toward one of those railroad underpasses, but there was 14 feet of water," Dr. Eades said. "He was not able to get out and subsequently drowned. Since then, it's been one of the City's missions to get better control of Third and Tenth Street."
The City originally posted flood gauge signs at those underpasses to show drivers when it was too deep to drive through, but even those warnings were not enough as underpasses like the one on Tenth have been known to quickly fill with up to 14 feet of water. Starting this past Monday, June 17, the City began installing floodgates at some of the more dangerous underpasses.
"They will essentially exclude that side of traffic and there will be a warning sign on them," said Eades. "It'll be quite a struggle to get around those in a vehicle."
The gates will function much like railroad crossings are being paid for with money the City gained through red light cameras.
"That's been dedicated toward public safety and traffic and so that's one of the things we're doing," explained Commissioner Eades. "We're spending approximately $85,000 in order to put up gates both east and west on Third and on Tenth."
Costing the City instead of costing lives.
"We're doing it in order to protect the public so we never have anything like that happen again."
Construction and maintenance crews still lack about two weeks before those floodgates are up and fully functioning.