Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MoDOT Hauls Out the Big Bags

Now, that's a sandbag.
In my house, when I mention big bags, it usually is in reference to my lack of sleep, but here at the department Big Bags take on a whole new meaning.

With the recent flooding problems across the state, MoDOT is trying a new tool to keep water off the roads and motorists safe. Big Bags are large sand bags -- really large -- that unfold like an accordion to create a 15-foot long, 3-foot high by 3-foot wide storage compartment for sand. One system of Big Bags takes the place of 500 sand bags.

They were tested for the first time in the southeast area in the spring when flooding was a problem, and now they’re being used on the west side of Route 65 between Carrollton and Waverly for a two-mile stretch.

Remember playing with Legos? Well, these work much the same way. A chain of dumpster-sized bags can be attached, filled with sand and built upon to create floodwalls quickly and easily. The bags are made of tightly woven polypropylene with wooden frames screwed together. Each system weighs only 50 pounds when empty, but when deployed they are filled with 2,800 -3,500 pounds of sand, depending on its moisture content. The bags are filled with the help of a conveyer system created during their recent use in the southeast area.

MoDOT was has 480 systems available to use when needed. Check out pictures of these Big Bags on MoDOT's Flickr site or watch a video of the Big Bags getting placed along Route 65.


Anonymous said...

I've been watching these bags being installed here on line with great interest. They sure make allot of sense. Thinking ahead, what happens when the flood waters recede? Will the bags simply be cut and the sand/gravel left on the side of the road, or is there a way to reclaim it? csl in Shawnee, Ks

MoDOT said...

We'll be testing a couple of different methods with Big Bags to determine how the bags and materials inside them can be reclaimed. We may try loading the filled bags onto a flat-bed trailer and moving them to a local lot for storage under a tarp. Another option might be to empty and dry the bags for storage to reuse later, and then place the filler material into a stockpile. We intend to salvage what we can so these materials can continue to provide the best value for every dollar invested.