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Jan 19

Edmonton pilot project aims to give drivers heads up on flooded roads

The Whitemud flooded twice last summer, leaving motorists stranded. This summer, a pilot project gets underway to keep them above water.

Torrential rainfall quickly built up on the arterial road, transforming it into a murky waterway. On July 27, 2016 Global News captured footage of a manhole spewing water.

That same day, the City of Edmonton tweeted that nearly a dozen drainage crews had been dispatched to replace manholes and clear flooded areas.

Those who wound up trapped in their cars had to be rescued by Edmonton firefighters using lifeboats.

“What we see is people have routinely been getting stuck there when we have these flash floods,” said Coun. Michael Walters.

“If all it takes is a warning system that doesn’t have a ton of expense and keeps people out of those situations, I think that’s the best way forward.”

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  • Repeated Whitemud flooding prompts calls for better notification

    READ MORE: Edmonton streets flooded as city battered by rain during thunderstorm

    Whitemud Drive at 111 Street and 106 Street will be part of the pilot project.

    “We’ll be taking a look at painting lines on the various bridge piers to try and give an indication of what kind of level the flood would be at,” said Chris Ward, manager of drainage services with the City of Edmonton.

    “And we’ll be looking at trying to use existing sensors in the sewer system to try and give warning if we get an indication it is flooding or about to flood.”

    Currently there are five underpasses in the city with water level sensors in the sewer system. However, they are unable to judge how much water is accumulating on the road surface.

    Two of the sensors are located at spots that will be part of the pilot.

    “Between the time that we’re aware that the sewer systems are filling underneath Whitemud at 111 Street and it actually starts to flood the surface, we have about a 15-minute response window,” Ward said.

    Another component of the advance notice system will be portable road signs strategically placed before each underpass.

    “Depending on the success of the pilots, we will then start to take a look at other locations around the city. Should we? Could we? What can we do?”

    WATCH: City crews still cleaning up at night after Edmonton slammed by storm

    On July 27, 2016, parts of the city saw 67 millimetres of rainfall in just four hours. That is considered a once in 200-year storm.