Flooding during Tropical Storm Harvey was obviously caused by a year’s worth of rain falling in about a 24-hour period. Since Harvey state and county officials have been studying and working to find ways of getting better drainage to alleviate some of the other causes of the flooding during Harvey in addition to other high water incidents in the county.
One particular culprit that critics point to are the two low service road or frontage road bridges of Interstate 10 over Adams Bayou. The pilings that hold up the bridges block debris on the bayou causing the water to rise.
County Commissioner Johnny Trahan has been leading the efforts locally to get the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to alter its plans for widening Interstate 10 in the vicinity of Adams Bayou. He has found it difficult to persuade TxDOT that the low bridges on the service road over Adams Bayou are part of the drainage and flooding problem.
Trahan received some positive feedback late in May from TxDOT concerning the removal of the feeder road bridges. He feels more comfortable with the changes the highway department is considering now for the bridges.
The final plan will not come out for a while, but it appears the service road bridges will be removed with the feeder roads being elevated creating an auxiliary lane adjacent to both sides of the main lanes of the interstate bridge. The auxiliary lanes would then return to ground level after crossing the bayou.
Another concern for Trahan and local first responders is maintaining the use of the turn arounds under the bridge on both sides of the bayou. TxDOT plans to keep both of the turnarounds. Trahan admits those will still occasionally flood, but will be available for use by first responders most of the time. “I feel really good about that,” Trahan stated.
Future developments and projects were discussed between the commissioner and the highway engineers. Trahan pointed out the supports for the main lanes of the interstate are also in the waters of the bayou and can block debris like downed trees and limbs.
A question the engineers will have to answer is whether possibly the spans can be increased so the new pilings will not be in the bayou, but on solid ground. In the future when the current bridge is replaced the supports might be widened. “At some point in the future we’ll eventually get all the pilings out of the bayou that’s what we’re looking for,” Trahan predicted.
The changes are all part of a widening project for Interstate 10 being done by TxDOT. At a public forum held in February TxDOT estimated construction to widen the interstate will begin in June 2020. The project is expected to take three to four years to complete.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-