Photo of a distressed motorist

In late September, Austin received a much-needed downpour over a few days. Many low water crossings were flooded and drivers depended on the automatic flood barricades (AFBs) to warn them of the impassable roadways.

However, while driving on Spicewood Springs Road early in the morning, a man was swept away in a low water crossing. The area where the man crossed had an AFB, but it was not flashing. He assumed the road was safe to travel on since the AFB was not warning him otherwise.

Unfortunately, KXAN reports that “city Watershed Department staff confirm a blown fuse caused (the) automatic flood barricade to stop working just when it was needed most.”

Are Automatic Flood Barricades Reliable?

With this recent story, many are questioning the reliability of these automatic flood barricades (AFB). Some tell KXAN that they have seen AFBs that were not warning people to turn around when the road was clearly impassable.

After discovering the fault in the AFB on Spicewood Springs Rd., city crews checked others near the area to make sure they were operating.

AFBs are designed to deploy a barricade and warning lights when it detects excessive amount of water over the road.

Fortunately, the man in this story was able to escape out of the side window of his car and was not injured. However, the city of Austin should make sure that the devices they are using are reliable enough to warn travelers when the roads are too dangerous for traveling.

Amazingly, there are 643 creek crossings throughout the Austin area. Only a few of these roads have signs, gauges or warning lights:

  • Twenty signs with flashing lights.
  • Twenty-five locations with water gauges.
  • Forty locations with signs reading “Watch for Water over Road”.

The Law Offices of Aaron Allison– Austin Personal Injury Attorney

The Law Offices of Aaron Allison