By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Highway crews are working to restore both lanes of Highway 59 in southern Buchanan County, but I-29 into Iowa will likely be closed for quite some time.
Missouri Department of Transportation Area Engineer Adam Watson says crews created a temporary berm along Highway 59 to force floodwaters off one lane to re-open the route into Atchison, Kansas.
“We wouldn’t open the road with water being over it. We don’t like for motorists not to be able to see what they’re driving through. We don’t like the potential for damage underneath the water we can’t see,” Watson tells St. Joseph Post. “Typically, even when its raining really hard and the road is flooding, we don’t like for motorists to drive through running water or drive through a road covered with water.”
Watson says MoDOT hopes to open both lanes soon, perhaps even as early as today, but worries that spring rains could create renewed flooding later.
Interstate 29 across the state line into Iowa will likely stay closed well into May, perhaps even into June.
Watson says I-29 suffered extensive damage in Iowa during the Missouri River flooding. Once floodwaters recede, repairs will need to be made to re-open the interstate.
Watson says MoDOT is allowing local traffic to travel I-29 in northern Missouri.
“What we don’t want is through traffic or traffic intending to go further north into the Midwest to use I-29, because there is no capacity to accept traffic into Iowa,” Watson says. “There is just nothing over across the (state) line.”
I-29 remains closed to through traffic at Highway 71 north of St. Joseph.
MoDOT is advising traffic wishing to travel north on I-29 to drive east to Interstate 35 and take it to I-80, back across to I-29.