CHESTER, Ill. (KFVS) - With roads across Missouri closed due to flooding, everyone is asking when will it reopen?
“Even once floodwaters recede, Missouri Department of Transportation crews still have work to do before a closed roadway or bridge can reopen,” said MoDOT Southeast District Maintenance Engineer Tammy Hefner. “There is a process to reopening a route or bridge to ensure the safety of our travelers.”
Currently, the Route 51 Chester Bridge over the Mississippi River is closed. The bridge is located southwest of Chester, Illinois, and northeast of Perryville, Missouri, and it is the only connection for drivers across the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
The process for reopening the Chester Bridge will include:
- Allowing the water to recede from the bridge girders
- Inspecting the bridge
- Removing debris
- Deconstructing the levee wall
- Inspecting and repairing the road
Hefner added the removal of the levee wall is a more in-depth part of the process.
“To install the levee wall, the roadway is actually cut to allow for placement of the panels. Several posts are placed into sleeves in the roadway to help lock it into place,” she explained. “During removal, this will require welding the steel caps and filling the pavement void.”
Hefner said the Chester Bridge will require more extensive work to reopen, but all roads must have a safety inspection and any necessary repairs must be made before reopening.
The bridge closed shortly after 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 2.
According to the Perry County Sheriff’s Office, some levees were control breached to ease the pressure on the river.
The Ste. Genevieve Co. Sheriff’s Office reports the “Farmer’s Levee” is being opened to allow Mississippi River flood waters to enter the “Big Field.” This in turn will save much of the levee. Highway 61 will be submerged from the Ste. Genevieve levee south.
The Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have closed the Mississippi River from Alton at mile marker 200.5, north to Gladstone at mile marker 410.4 due to extremely high water levels.
“Safety of people, property, and environment is paramount,” said Capt. Scott Stoermer, commander of Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River. “The Coast Guard continues to monitor, communicate conditions, and prepare to respond during this extended high water period. We ask for the public to be vigilant and heed all warnings in the riverine environment.”
According to the levee district, they have people monitoring the other levees near Chester 24/7. There is a bit of concern as the flooding lasts.
According to the National Weather Service, the river was measured at 45.8 feet as of 10 a.m. on Friday, June 14.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, they are monitoring river levels and anticipate reducing Route 51 to one lane in Perry County from County Road 238 to north of Horse Island Chute Bridge. Temporary traffic signals will be used.
Weather permitting, that lane reduction will be put into place on Thursday, May 30, following the morning rush hour.
Deputies ask that drivers use caution and pay attention to the traffic signals in place when crossing the bridge. They say you should allow for extra time when traveling for work or appointments.
The bridge over the Mississippi River connects Route 51 in Perry County, Mo. to Randolph County, Ill.