Interstate 29 is targeted to reopen in June between Council Bluffs and the Missouri state line, Iowa transportation officials said Thursday.
Officials updated the sometimes-tenuous state of recovery from the March floods. In some cases, the threat of renewed flooding is still present because the earlier floodwaters damaged levees that were in place near Iowa highways, said Mark Lowe, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation.
On I-29, some 4.3 miles of highway and 7 miles of highway shoulders sustained severe damage along a stretch from near Glenwood, Iowa, to Missouri. Lowe said reconstruction work is due to start next week along that stretch.
For traffic heading to Kansas City, Iowa continues to try to divert people to Des Moines, then south on Interstate 35. But drivers out of Omaha also are choosing to take smaller highways south, including U.S. Highway 75.
That has caused some concern about traffic and speeding from communities along that route, said Kyle Schneweis, director of the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
The two Transportation Departments held a joint press conference Thursday in Council Bluffs, where the directors stressed the importance of coordination between the two states.
Schneweis said he understands that the traveling public needs “the system to work seamlessly, and that’s our goal.”
Lowe said Iowa is starting to talk about how to protect the entire corridor in the future, not just the highways. The governors of Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri met last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates many levees in the area.
In the short term, Lowe said his department is looking at portable barriers to help protect the highways.
Interstate 29 is just one highway damaged along the Missouri and Platte River corridors in the two states.
The U.S. Highway 34 connection to I-29 remains closed, cutting off a key link between Bellevue and Glenwood.
Part of Highway 34 will need to be rebuilt. But in some places, water remains along the highway, preventing the department from safely bringing in repair equipment, said Scott Suhr, transportation planner/field services coordinator for the Iowa Transportation Department’s District 4 office.
Beyond that, levee breaches have taken away some of the flood protection, he said. As to when the Highway 34 connection might reopen, Lowe said he could only estimate several months.
The Elkhorn River at the Maple Street bridge is shown under water Monday March 18, 2019.
Floodwaters from the Elkhorn River have gone down and now expose a heavily damaged West Dodge Road.
Floodwaters from the Elkhorn River have started to recede, exposing a heavily damaged West Dodge Road.
The eastbound lanes of West Dodge Road just west of 228th Street show the damage done after floodwaters went down Monday.
A cow makes its way through floodwaters near Columbus, Nebraska, on Friday.
A shell of the Spencer dam is left on the Niobrara River.
Floodwaters engulf a farm near Missouri Valley on Friday.
Floodwaters flow over a railroad bridge near Arlington, Nebraska, on Friday.
Floodwaters make their way into North Bend, Nebraska, on Friday.
The Elkhorn River encroaches on Waterloo on Sunday.
A portion of Highway 92 has been destroyed by floodwaters in western Douglas County.
The Elkhorn River has covered several parts of western Douglas County.
A levee breach is shown on the Platte River near Ashland on Sunday.
Valley is shown inundated by floodwaters on Sunday.
An aerial view of Missouri Valley near the Interstate 29 exit on March 15.
An aerial view of Missouri Valley as floodwaters continue to impact the area on Friday.
A house is surrounded by floodwaters near Waterloo, Nebraska, on Friday.
Floodwaters envelop King Lake, Nebraska, on Friday.
Floodwaters swallow the town of Rogers, Nebraska, on Friday.
Water recedes in the town of Niobrara Neb. The highway showing is Hwy 12 and Hwy 14 Junction.
The Morman bridge on Highway 12 between Niobrara and Niobrara State Park was wiped out by a flood.
A train is stopped on flooded tracks next to the Platte River near Cedar Creek, Nebraska, on Friday.
Interstate 29 surrounded by water near exit 56 in Council Bluffs, which is part of a section that is closed due to flooding on Friday.
Highway 75's northbound lane is closed because of flooding near Merritt's Beach RV Park on Friday.
A Nebraska National Guard helicopter flies over areas flooded by the Platte River near Columbus, Nebraska, on Friday.
Highway 81 covered in floodwaters south of Columbus, Nebraska, on Friday.
A Nebraska National Guard helicopter flies over flooded Waterloo on Friday.
Cars drive drive across a flooded Platte River on Highway 50 just north of Louisville.
Water covers a road near Valley, Nebraska.
A westward, aerial view of a flooded Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park on Friday.
An aerial view of Missouri Valley, Iowa, as floodwaters continue to impact the area on Friday.
The National Weather Service in Valley, Nebraska was evacuated due to flooding.
A truck drives through a flooded road near the Platte River.