Drivers keep ignoring the I-29 shutdown north of St. Joseph — and officials are fed up

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Officials are calling it a brazen disregard for public safety. Drivers are making their own rules of the road on Interstate 29, and it’s happening every day.

The highway is closed north of St. Joseph because of the floodwaters still covering the road to our north.

But on a daily basis drivers are stopping and literally moving detour barriers, which can put other drivers in serious danger.

On Friday afternoon, FOX4 headed north of the metro where we actually caught truckers who first drove through traffic cones set up for a detour — then stopped to move a large barrier closing I-29.

They said they had special permission to do it — even though that’s not what police told us.

“Well we got the green light from the DOT that we can, actually,” Sam Brummund with Sam’s Way Trucking said. “We are doing rock hauling for the state, so that’s how we are able to to do that.”

But both MoDOT and state police told FOX4 that’s simply not true.

A few hours later, we saw police putting the barrier back in place after another truck driver moved it and several passenger vehicles followed it though.

“We get calls every day of it, and people are moving the barricades, which again it’s a pretty good fine,” said Lt. Doug Hedrick with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Officials said if the 13,000 cars that travel through St. Joseph tried to get off the interstate closer to Iowa and Nebraska, where floodwaters still cover the interstate, the car volume would overwhelm the smaller towns and roads — creating dangerous gridlock.

“Thats why were kind of wanting to alleviate the majority of the traffic to flow in a better way where it’s safer for everyone,” Hedrick said.

Even so, FOX4 saw at least six big rigs makes rules of their own.

Police said they’re adding extra patrols to crack down on anyone who drives as if a heavily marked interstate detour is optional.

The fine for moving a traffic barrier is $200 and often requires a court appearance.

And the I-29 detour in St. Joseph could be there a while. With the snow that fell in the Upper Midwest this week, more floodwaters could follow — and portions of I-29 might be closed until June.

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