ILLINOIS (KFVS) - People affected by detours caused by flooding in southern Illinois saw some relief Friday afternoon, July 26.
Both lanes of Route 3 opened up to traffic just before 2 p.m. There is a small section where it is down to one lane.
According to Keith Miley, operations engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation, there will be one lane open of traffic for a portion of the northbound lane just south of McClure.
IDOT says a short portion of Rte. 3 is down to one lane because there’s still about four to five inches of water on the road.
They have a light set up, but Miley said the delays shouldn’t be so bad because the open part of the road is completely dry so cars can drive faster on it.
It's been a long time coming for drivers who'd had to go the long way around to and from Cape Girardeau.
“You don’t realize how isolated you are. You don’t realize, Oh my medicine’s up and it’s due and it’s in Cape. Just to go get a loaf of bread, you’re 20 miles from a loaf of bread. You know, the normalcy is coming back and we’re gonna keep our chins up,” said James Myers of McClure.
Myers said getting groceries, gas, cleaning supplies and everything else they need is going to be way easier with access to Cape Girardeau.
Miley said there will be dry pavement where people are driving.
According to Miley, the reason why they’re not opening the routes on Thursday is because their goal was to have two-way traffic open by Friday.
He said “water on road” signs will be set up in areas that are more narrow.
IDOT will also put out signs that restrict overweight and over-size loads from driving the reopened stretch of Route 3 and Route 146. That restriction will be in place for about a week.
Illinois Route 3 will stay closed from south of the intersection with Illinois Route 146 to Gale due to flooding. IDOT said warning signs are installed to alert drivers of the closure.
They say that part of the road will stay closed until the flood waters recede from the area.
According to Miley, as of Thursday, Route 3 south of the “Y,” between East Cape Girardeau and Thebes, has 5-7 inches of water.
He said he is confident this stretch will not open this weekend, and said it will likely open either on Monday or Tuesday.
Miley said once the water recedes at the Cape “Y,” crews will complete inspection to check for damage.
Crews have been working on this area for about six to eight weeks.
According to IDOT, water on the Route 3 and Route 146 dropped 3-4 inches just on Wednesday, July 24.
Miley said on Wednesday their main priority is to get Route 3 and 146 back in shape so it’s safe for drivers.
“We will do our best to get this open and get people back on their normal route and their normal schedule because I know it’s been an inconvenience,” Miley said.
Once waters recede, the roads will need to be inspected for damage and cleaned of silt and debris.
He said crews used snow plow blades and power brooms to remove the silt off the state highways.
“We don’t want to have motorist driving over something that’s not safe," Miley said. "We want to have plenty of room for people to negotiate and not having people run off the shoulder ... there’s not a lot of water up here against the embankment.”
He said crews are continuing to inspect the embankments. The extra traffic could cause more issues because it’s adding more weight and pressure to foundation areas that have been soaked for months.
Rachel Parker volunteers for Spark Ministries. She used to live near 146 and Route 3, but since the flooding, has since moved to McClure.
Three days a week, she takes her mother to dialysis. A detour, now taking her two hours.
“That’s been quite trying," Parker said.
With the hopes of the route opening up, she said she is happy to save money and time.
“It’s a blessing, really.”
A portion of Rte. 146 between the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge and East Cape Girardeau opened to local traffic only on Friday, July 19.
Miley is hoping for a long-term solution to prevent this from happening again or to reduce some of the consequences associated with for a future flood.