"The primary reasons we developed the product was to save lives, help the department prepare for, respond to and recover more quickly from extreme events and really ultimately just operate the transportation network more efficiently," NCDOT engineer Matt Lauffer said.
The system allows NCDOT to monitor flood levels from 400 different gauges on area rivers and streams. Those gauges will help NCDOT more quickly respond to areas where floodwaters are threatening bridges, roads or culverts.
In addition to helping NCDOT and local emergency officials more quickly respond to dangerous problem areas, it will also improve the department's DriveNC.gov weather-related road closures. That will help drivers be better informed about possible weather-related delays or detours before they hit the road.
"This state-of-the-art warning system our department has created will help us be better prepared for the next major storm," Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said. "Even though we've had some quiet hurricane seasons recently, we cannot let our guard down."
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"It'll hopefully provide information to save lives, to provide information about roads that are vulnerable, roads that are being flooded and help us to manage resources better," Lauffer said.
This new system is the fruit of a $2 million investment given to NCDOT after Hurricane Florence in 2018. The state legislature tasked the department with installing more flood gauges and developing improved software to better serve the entire state when the next big storm hits.
The improved system now covers nearly 3,000 miles of roads--mostly east of Interstate 95. It also actively monitors flood conditions on 15,000 bridges and culverts.
NCDOT shows new gauge on NC 42 bridge over Neuse River in Clayton
NCDOT said its team has been training on the new system with smaller storms during the past year.
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