I-29 NB past St. Joe still closed with westbound roadways flooded and damaged

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- More than a month after devastating flooding began, I-29 is still shut down north of St. Joseph, and the road to completing repairs is still weeks more away.

While the interstate itself is perfectly driveable, north of St. Joe, nearly every single road that leads west is either still under water or damaged by flooding.

Detours are proving a major headache for drivers.

"It's an extra 10 miles out of the way.  That's a half gallon of gas.  Three or four extra dollars," said Clyde Staples.

Staples is from southern Missouri and is working the next couple weeks near Mound City.  His crew is forced to stay in St. Joe because so many workers are filling up hotels further north.

"They got the highway blocked down there for no reason and personally I mean I get off the road instead of going all the way around.  I cut through the median and come back on 29 and go north," he said.

Local traffic can access I-29 north using alternate routes.  But MoDOT says the shut down to most travelers will remain for good reason.

"Iowa sustained a lot more damage around Interstate 29 and they are still closed.  So we'd really be a bad neighbor sending people up and saying, 'Okay.  Make the best you can now,'" said Adam Watson, St. Joseph area engineer for MoDOT.

Drivers are urged to take I-35 and if not, you're forced off I-29 at US 71.

"This was one of the worst floods we've had," said Watson.

Major routes like 159 are wrecked.  One bridge near Fortescue is simply not fixable..

"It's damaged beyond repair.  It cannot hold traffic.  I wouldn't walk across it myself," Watson said.

Highway 136 has erosion making roads unsafe for travel and dozens of local roads are still drowning with damage yet to be uncovered.

"One moment of inattention, your wheel goes off and we could have an unsafe situation so definitely stay away from the flooded roads right now.  Wait til we open them," Watson said.

Damage is already racking up into the tens of millions of dollars.  And even once emergency repairs are made,  it'll be a while before everything's completely back to normal.

"They'll be passable.  There's the word we're going to use--passable.  I can't say it's going to be a great road.  But now open and it's safe to use," said Watson.

MoDOT is optimistic Iowa's Department of Transportation will have necessary repairs made to the interstate, in order for I-29 to be reopened to all northbound travelers by the end of May.



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