DOT tries new technology in flood fight


July 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation has been using and learning about new types of technology as it fights the flooding along state highways. D-O-T spokesperson, Dena Gray-Fisher says one of the new things they’ve been using is called “Trapbag.” It’s a large bag that is filled with rock and creates a barrier along the road. She says the Trapbag is a variation of the so-called Hesco barriers.

Gray-Fisher says the Trapbags are bags that are already connected together in a line and they move down the road filling them and can create about 400 feet of barrier in an hour. Gray-Fisher says the Trapbags let them put up a lot of barrier in a short amount of time. She says it allows them to be more efficient, and requires less labor, which she says is helpful when you are under time limits. Gray-Fisher says the new technology is used along with the old to find the best protection for roadways.

Gray-Fisher says they still use the traditional sandbags and barrier walls, and they also look at raising the elevation of the pavement. She says they’ve had plenty of practice in recent years in find ways to protect the highways, and they are getting more education from the western Iowa flooding.

For example, she says they’ve learned to use Trapbags in different ways on different roads to get the best results. Gray-Fisher says lessons learned in the past have served them well, but western Iowa also provides some new challenges.

She says this is very different because the flooding started happening in June and will last well into August, causing more seepage and impact from flowing waters than in past floods. Gray-Fisher says there is a lot of debris in the Missouri River and that can cause damage to roadways as well. She says they will have a lot more to learn from examining roadbeds and bridge structures once the Missouri River floodwaters finally recede.

(Radio Iowa)