COUNCIL BLUFFS — Interstate 29 south of the city probably will close in some locations next week because of rising floodwaters, the Iowa Department of Transportation said Friday.
Closings would occur along the corridor from Council Bluffs to Hamburg, a distance of about 45 miles. The highway is the primary route for travelers heading south of Omaha to the Kansas City area.
People who are relying on I-29 for an evacuation route should take heed.
“It's very possible it won't be available. We are not trying to unnecessarily alarm people. We just want people to take this seriously and take all precautions,” said Dena Gray-Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Iowa agency.
Exactly when and how much of I-29 would close is not known, she said. But those who use the highway need to consider alternatives and plan for trips to take a lot longer.
“If your travel is along that corridor, there really is not going to be any alternative for roads,” she said. “If you think about the Interstate (closing) down, a lot of things around it will be down too.”
However, in a briefing Friday night, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that while maps show flooding around I-29, only a few spots, near Hamburg, are likely to be affected.
John Remus of the Corps' Omaha District office agreed, saying the roadway is elevated enough that it should not be at risk.
The Corps also projects that a few levees are likely to overtop, but that doesn't mean that they will, Remus said. Much depends on the flows of the numerous streams and creeks converging in that area.
The Iowa Department of Transportation believes the levee system between Council Bluffs and Hamburg will most likely be overtopped, affecting more than just I-29, Gray-Fisher said.
Vulnerable roadways near the Missouri River include:
>> U.S. Highway 34
>> Iowa Highway 2
Also, north of Council Bluffs:
>> Interstate 680
>> The I-29/U.S. Highway 30 interchange at Missouri Valley
>> I-29 near Blencoe
“The only thing that looks safe right now appears to be Interstate 80, but parts of that in the Council Bluffs area we are really evaluating closely right now,” Gray-Fisher said.
One of two eastbound lanes is shut down on Highway 2 in southwest Iowa between I-29 and the river because of encroaching floodwaters.
Also, many gas stations and restaurants along Highway 2 will close this weekend, said Mike Crecelius, emergency management coordinator for Fremont County, Iowa.
Sometime late next week he expects floodwaters to cause the closing of the entire road.
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Video of Bartlett, Iowa, evacuation:
Video of the flood fight in South Sioux City: