As record highs reached by the Missouri River begin to slowly recede from its peak of 32.2 feet, the conditions of streets, highways and county roads impacted by flooding are being closely monitored as the Missouri Department of Transportation and authorities look to make transportation routes accessible again.
Jennifer Sardigal, an assistant maintenance engineer with MoDOT, called the 2019 flood a "totally different type of flood" compared to 2011, with multiple levee breaches across Northwest Missouri shooting flood waters in all different directions, increasing the area of places affected.
While the exact total of damages to transportation routes cannot be completely determined until waters have receded, she expected notable impacts to conditions on major and minor routes in northwest Missouri, particularly the shoulders of roads and highways.
“I know as the water was coming up you could see in certain locations that the shoulders were giving way, so there will have to be a lot of shoulder work that has to be done as water recedes,” Sardigal said. “It’s gonna be drawing shoulders back in and bringing in rock and stuff like that.”
Determining which roadways can be opened and which ones need immediate repairs, especially busy highways and interstates, is the first priority before they focus on smaller roads.
“So I-29 would be top priority, to get it reopened to eliminate that giant detour for 35,” Sardigal said. “We’ll monitor it as the water recedes and if we can get it open to one lane we’ll put up signs and let it open to one lane if it’s just a little bit of the roadway.”
MoDOT is already looking and preparing for the possibility of having to cut back on its asphalt patch projects to cover flood damage repairs throughout the area.
For now, she said the department is less worried about serious damages done to interstates as they are to low-traffic county roads, with some being submerged in flood waters longer than some interstates."
Determining which side and county roads are accessible and which ones will require road work is heavily dependent on the foundation, how much rock is left and how much was swept away by flooding.
“I know there are several county routes ... it looks like it’s just washed the whole roadbed,” Sardigal said.