Depth of flood damage hidden - Omaha.com
Published Monday, September 19, 2011 at 1:00 am / Updated at 8:35 pm
Depth of flood damage hidden

COUNCIL BLUFFS — It would take only a three-quarter swing of a pitching iron to hit a golf ball over one gap of 145th Street in rural Pottawattamie County, at least according to the distance meter the County Engineer's Office used to measure where the road has been washed away by Missouri River floodwater.

Engineer John Rasmussen said the gap, calculated with a golf range finder, measured a little more than 83 yards.

The patch of missing 145th Street, which runs parallel to and west of Interstates 29/680 in the northern part of the county, is just one of many areas that still are impassible in the county, and there is no set timetable on when the stretch can be fixed. Of course, the water still has to go down more before Rasmussen even knows what he is up against.

The gap, which still had water rushing through it last week, is at least 6 feet deep just a foot from where the roadway collapsed. Rasmussen said he envisions that the center of the road, where the water likely cut a sharper channel, is much deeper.

"It's the biggest gap that I know of right now," he said. "Of course there are still 15 miles of road we still haven't seen yet."

So far, Rasmussen said he has been surprised to find the roads in better shape than expected after they had been sitting underwater for almost 100 days.

Still, until the water is completely gone and the roads are dry out, Rasmussen said, roadblocks will remain up.

"We want to make sure everyone knows that the roads do not have normal driving conditions," he said. "And people who are driving on them are doing it at their own risk."

Rasmussen said he doesn't know when repairs in the gap on 145th Street will be made. It likely requires a "permanent repair," which means the Federal Emergency Management Agency would pay for the work; but Rasmussen won't know for sure until the water is gone.

However, the stretch would not be considered urgent for repair if all the residences nearby can be reached north or south of the gap. That was not possible Thursday. Several feet of water choked off 145th Street at the intersection with Rosewood Road, south of the gap.

But Thursday was the first time Rasmussen was able to make it to the intersection from Sumac Road, where his crews were already putting down new gravel.

"We are getting projects done," he said. "The nice thing is that the roads are coming out (of inundation) so slow, our trucks can do this road today and tomorrow be somewhere else."

And there are plenty of other places to be.

MFT Construction poured new concrete on Old Mormon Bridge Road west of Crescent on Thursday. The project is another example of the quick turnaround times under which the county is working.

Rasmussen said proposals for repairs to the 173-foot stretch were received at noon Tuesday. MFT was selected to do the job, and the concrete was already drying 48 hours later.

The stretch of road also was stabilized after the shoulders were washed away in the flooding. After a little more than a week of work and after the concrete then sets, the road will be drivable to Interstate 29.

VIDEO: An Omaha man reflects on the summer's flooding and his time spent on the river walk


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