2019 has been a year of unprecedented flooding. Particularly in the Midwest, floods have washed away homes, destroyed roads, and even cost people their lives. The combination of heavy snowfall throughout the winter and the quickly rising temperature led runoff to flow out all along the regions surrounding the Missouri River and its tributaries. Thankfully, as we move into the summer, flood levels are abating slightly. But there are still repairs to be made.
If you often travel through the Midwest, especially through Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, or Missouri, you may be wondering what you should expect in terms of flood damage on the road.
Back in March, significant flooding closed interstates throughout the state. There were 17 roads closed in total. The biggest closure forced drivers to reroute to Interstate 35. This highway passes through Des Moines and added about 100 miles to the journey between Sioux Falls and Kansas City. While it was a serious inconvenience for truckers at the time, the damage has since been repaired and the roads are drivable again.
Missouri was hit particularly hard by the 2019 flooding. At one point, sections of Interstate 29 were submerged beneath 15 feet of water and Governor Mike Parson had declared a state of emergency. Roads throughout the state were closed and traffic was severely limited. The damage was called some of the worst the state had ever seen.
Sections of the road along the Platte River sustained significant damage, with some bridges projected to still be under construction until Oct. 2019. Parts of Interstate 29 continue to be closed due to damage to both roads and bridges. Officials say they do not know when the roads will reopen.
U.S. Route 136 was also closed at the beginning of April, including the Bridge at Phelps City, which was partially washed away. U.S. Route 65 also sustained damage, as did Route 10 and Route P through Holt County. Officials experienced holdups in repairing roads as they waited for flood waters to recede throughout the state. Damage varies from surface damage to washed-away structures.
Roads in Nebraska sustained comparatively minor amounts of damage. Several bridges were closed throughout the state. Some roads, including part of US-281, were washed away by strong flood waters. This section is near the Niobrara River Bridge close to the South Dakota border. The Nebraska Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct the bridge completely, with a temporary replacement in Aug. 2019 and the new bridge projected for completion by the end of 2020.
Fortunately, the Nebraska Department of Transportation has been able to make quick repairs to many of the roads throughout the state. Work continues on parts of US-275 near Omaha and bridges on State Route 12. Officials project repairs to continue throughout 2019 and 2020.
The South Dakota state government continues to assess the extent of road damage throughout the state. As of April 2019, Governor Kristi Noem was still collecting data to find out whether a request for federal aid was appropriate. The Sioux Falls region was hit particularly hard. South Dakota also posed a unique challenge because of its network of gravel roads throughout the state. While the interstates seem largely intact, gravel roads around South Dakota were washed away, then further damaged by vehicles driving over them while they were deteriorating. Some counties have sustained damage to as much as 70 percent of their roads.
As we move into summer 2019, repairs are underway throughout the Midwest. Drivers traveling along these routes may need to take some detours, but should not encounter any dangerous roadways.