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Northwest Missouri roads and bridges heavily damaged in the March flood are starting to see emergency repairs and debris removal.

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded two contracts over the past week to initiate the recovery process. The contracts cover debris removal and emergency repairs.

One project pertains to U.S. Highway 159 in Holt County, from 1 mile east of Missouri Route P near Fortescue, Missouri, to the Missouri River bridge. Crews began working on the section this week.

The contract was awarded to Phillips Hardy Inc. for more than $3.5 million. The project is due to be finished by June 1, pending weather and receding floodwaters. More than 10,000 tons of rock have already been placed in a pavement gap west of Missouri Highway 111. Local traffic is asked to stay away from the construction zone.

Another project is removing debris and making emergency repairs to U.S. Highway 136 in Atchison County, from Interstate 29 to the Missouri River bridge. That work also was awarded to Phillips Hardy Inc., for nearly $3.5 million, with completion due by July 1. Water still covered the highway as of Friday.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said additional emergency contracts will be forthcoming for parts of Highway 111, Missouri Highway 118, the Little Tarkio bridge on U.S. Highway 159 and numerous lettered routes.

More permanent repairs are planned in 2020 for the affected highways.

The Missouri portion of I-29 between Exit 57 and the Iowa border remains closed to through traffic. Iowa officials hope to have their section of the interstate reopened by the end of the month.

Local traffic is permitted to use that portion of I-29.

Ray Scherer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.