Reopening of Interstate 29 due to flooded Missouri River still a guessing game

News

August 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

While water releases from upstream dams are being cut, the Missouri River is still badly flooded and it remains anyone’s guess when Interstate 29 will reopen in southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri. Bob Younie, maintenance director for the Iowa Department of Transportation, says it’ll be a while yet before they can assess damage.

“We’re still at a point where we don’t know what we don’t know,” Younie says. “We know there’s damage but we’re also pretty confident there’s damage we haven’t found. The scope of the damage will dictate the schedule for return to service and we just don’t know that yet.”

I-29 has been closed from Rock Port, Missouri, to south of Council Bluffs for much of the summer, cutting off popular travel routes. Younie says there’s still more than a foot of water over I-29 in southwest Iowa and two bridges near Hamburg worry him.

“We’ve had water over them and now water’s flowing under them and we don’t have any idea of what damage that water is doing until the water goes down significantly,” he says. The bridges will need a careful examination, he says, with one being at mile post 1.4, the other at mile post 3.

Rick Bennett, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation, says re-opening the interstate in Missouri depends on when it re-opens in Iowa.

“We’ll keep I-29 closed at Rock Port until Iowa is comfortable with opening it,” Bennett says. “It’ll be a joint decision between the two states. We don’t really have any good idea on timing.”

I-29 isn’t underwater in Missouri, but Missouri transportation officials closed the interstate at Rock Port to keep travelers from running into a watery dead end.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa www.radioiowa.com)