Missouri River flooding closes another Nebraska-Iowa bridge

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 06, 2011 12:59 PM

By David Hendee

OMAHA, Neb (Reuters) - Missouri River flooding closed another bridge on Wednesday morning, with U.S. Highway 30 between Blair, Nebraska, and Interstate 29 in Iowa shut down for 48 hours as crews install flood barriers, officials said.

The closing means that with the exceptions of Omaha and Plattsmouth, Nebraska, crossings between Nebraska and Iowa, all bridges are closed along a 228-mile stretch of the river from Sioux City, Iowa to St. Joseph, Missouri.

Iowa crews are installing giant sandbags along the north side of Highway 30. The south side already has the barrier installed.

Other bridges that have been closed by flooding include Highway 2 from Nebraska City into Iowa, Highway 136 from Brownville, Nebraska, into Missouri, and Highway 159 from Rulo, Nebraska, into Missouri.

At Salem Trucking Company in Lincoln, Nebraska, about 50 miles southwest of Omaha, company president Dick Salem said the closings have impacted trips and costs.

"It does impact the miles we run and the travel times and we have to adjust for that on a per-trip basis," Salem said. "We have agreements with our customers in place that if there are extra miles incurred that will be an additional charge."

"Transportation seems to be affected by so many factors -- hardly any of them makes the job easier," said Salem.

The swollen Missouri River received a record amount of rainfall and snowmelt runoff in June.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said in a report released last week that June runoff into the river was 13.8 million acre-feet of water, topping the previous record set in 1952.

The combined total runoff for May and June fell just short of the normal total runoff for an entire year.

Record water releases to relieve pressure on six reservoirs from Montana through South Dakota have strained flood defenses along the Missouri River and breached some levees downstream.

(Writing and additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)