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Officials: Flooded Iowa roads could take months to repair

March 29, 2019
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FILE - In this Monday, March 18, 2019, file photo, taken by the South Dakota Civil Air Patrol and provided by the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, shows flooding along the Missouri River north of Blair, Neb. Transportation officials say it will take months to repair major roads in western Iowa damaged by spring flooding. (Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management via AP, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — It will take months to repair major roads that were damaged by spring flooding in western Iowa, transportation officials said.

Scott Suhr, district planner for the Department of Transportation in southwest Iowa, said crews were on site Thursday to inspect some of the worst damages on parts of Interstate’s 29 and 680, Highway 34 and state highway 2, the Des Moines Register reported.

“We are working diligently to get contractors in to start repairs,” Suhr said. “We’re trying to reopen the roads as quickly and safely as possible.”

Around 25 miles (40 kilometers) of interstate in southwest Iowa and roughly 14 miles (22 kilometers) of roads north of Council Bluffs remain closed Thursday afternoon due to washed away shoulders, eroded pavement and scattered waste, Suhr added.

He noted getting construction equipment into the area will be challenging because the ground is drenched, and that inevitable spring downpours would further hinder efforts.

A portion of Highway 34 roughly a mile east of its Missouri River bridge will likely be shut down for at least two more months, the Iowa Department of Transportation tweeted Thursday with a photo of the collapsed roadway.

Suhr said his chief priority is state Highway 2, since sections were still flooded.

“We’re seeing damage this year that we didn’t see in 2011,” he said, adding that estimated repair costs won’t be available until surveying is finished.

Suhr encouraged anyone trying to cross a barrier to check on their property to notify local emergency management officials and organize a safe route.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com