MoDOT braces for ‘historic’ flooding that could close roads, damage bridges and highways

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By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post

Flooding along the Missouri River could prove devastating to northwest Missouri’s transportation system.

“This is historic. This is bigger than ’93. This is bigger than 2011.”

Missouri Department of Transportation District Maintenance and Traffic Engineer, Tonya Lohman, in the MoDOT St. Joseph office says MoDOT officials are preparing for the worst.

“There’s a lot of flooding going on,” Lohman says. “This is an historic one and it is going to be very impactful for us for several days, weeks, months; I don’t know.”

Recent heavy rain, snowmelt up north, and increased water releases from upstream dams are all feeding into the Missouri River, pushing it near record heights. The National Weather Service expects the Missouri River to crest at 30.1 feet early next week, just shy of the record 32.1 feet reached in the 1993 flood. The river will stay near that high for a couple of days before beginning to recede, according to the NWS forecast.

Lohman says MoDOT is in contact with Iowa and Nebraska to coordinate a regional approach for transportation.

Lohman anticipates flooding will close roads throughout northwest Missouri, including portions of Interstate 29 north of St. Joseph. She also anticipates the floodwaters will do great damage to area roads and bridges.

“We believe right now that the Missouri River will be over-topping levees in Iowa. Iowa is making plans right now to close I-29,” according to Lohman “We anticipate over-topping levees in the Atchison County area as well. We may end up closing (Highway) 136 or I-29 in that area.”

Lohman doesn’t just expect flooding to close roads. She expects prolong flooding to do much structural damage to roads and bridges throughout northwest Missouri.

Lohman warns motorists not to drive into floodwaters, pointing out it doesn’t take much rushing water to take over control of a vehicle.

Click here for information on Missouri road conditions from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Click here for information on Iowa road conditions from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Click here for information on Nebraska road conditions from the Nebraska Department of Transportation.