Road Closures Cripple Flood Relief Efforts, Agriculture Around Midwest
Floodwaters have devastated parts of the Midwest over the last week, submerging roads and washing away pavement. Roads around the region have been closed, crippling relief efforts.
The economic impact of the closures is already being felt by farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses in the area. Schools are closed and mail deliveries have been suspended due to impassable roads and washed-out bridges.
Some areas of Nebraska went days with no passable routes in or out. State officials are working with National Guard and others to open as many roadways as possible and assess damage.
In an interview Tuesday morning, Jeni Campana, spokesperson for Nebraska DOT, said, “We don’t have an exact estimate, but it’s probably hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the state highway system.”
So far, the department has determined that 14 bridges in the state are not usable. “That means that they’ve either been washed out or approaches have been washed away so you can’t drive across the bridge,” Campana explained.
Since the height of the flooding, some of the water has receeded. “We had over 1,500 miles that were closed because of water over the road. We’ve opened most of them back up,” she continued. “As of last night (Monday), we had about 500 miles that were closed because of flooding. We anticipate we we’re going to probably have around 200 miles of state highway system that is going to need to be repaired. It’s not just cleaning of the road. It’s going to actually require repair to get it up and running again.”
The state is still working to determine how those repair projects will be prioritized.
Campana noted, the state is aware of the economic impact the disabled roadways are having on the economy, especially the agriculture industry. “The ethanol plants and livestock that need to be able to get in and out of the plants can’t,” she said.
A DOT map of Nebraska state highways is full of road closure indicators as of Tuesday, March 19 at 8 a.m. Campana urges people traveling in Nebraska to check the DOT website or call 511 for the most up-to-date road conditions reports.
Many state highways around Iowa have also been closed due to flooding. The map below indicates road closures as of Tuesday, March 19, at 8 a.m. as reported by the Iowa DOT. Visit this website for up-to-date road conditions reports.
Several highways in south-central Wisconsin are closed, as well. The map below marks road closures as of Tuesday, March 19, at 8 a.m. as reported by the Wisconsin DOT. Visit this website for up-to-date road condition reports.
Both sides of Missouri are battling flooding waters, too. The map below shows road closures as of Tuesday, March 19, at 8 a.m. as reported by Missouri DOT. Visit this website for up-to-date road condition reports.