AMES, Iowa – July 28, 2011 – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is warning travelers to remain behind the barricades of closed roads, even after the flood waters begin to recede. Do not move or go around closure devices and enter a road closed to travel.
Eventually, roads once covered with flood waters from the Missouri River will resurface. That does not mean they will be immediately safe for travel.
In some instances, the flood damage will be obvious, in particular where segments of the roadway have been lost. But an even greater safety risk is the unknown and unexpected, where damage is located below the pavement surface or around bridges. For instance, if the pavement has been undermined by flood waters, it is vulnerable to collapse at any time; especially if weight is added by a passing vehicle.
Over the coming weeks, the Missouri River levels will begin to slowly drop as releases from Gavins Point Dam are reduced by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. When the roads and bridges emerge from the flood waters and waters recede sufficiently to permit visual observations, highway engineers will begin inspection work.
It is unknown at this time the extent of damage that may be discovered during these inspections. It is also unknown what work may be required to return the roads and bridges to a safe state of repair so they can be reopened.
Types of common flood damage are: scour around bridge abutments and piers; collapsed or damaged culverts; loss of shoulder material; undermining of the pavement; washouts; damage or loss of protective guardrail and other crash devices; and loss of signs.
Until such time that a road or bridge is officially reopened to travel, do not attempt to use it as you will be placing your safety and that of your passengers at great risk.
For links to each of the highway agencies’ websites and travel information phone numbers, visit: http://www.iowadot.gov/floods/index.html
Media contact: Dena Gray-Fisher, firstname.lastname@example.org