Metro-East News

Flooding latest: More rain on way, Hazlet State Park closing, I-55 reopened

Flooding closes Illinois 158 near Scott Air Force Base

Flooding on Thursday morning closed Illinois 158, between Illinois 161 and Illinois 177, near Scott Air Force Base.
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Flooding on Thursday morning closed Illinois 158, between Illinois 161 and Illinois 177, near Scott Air Force Base.

The metro-east remained under flash-flood and flooding warnings until Friday morning, as another day of torrential rains added to the overflowing rivers in the region.

Despite the rain, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced Thursday afternoon that it would open the westbound lane of Interstate 44 before the rush hour, starting around 4 p.m.

The eastbound lane of I-44 was still closed between Route 100 and Interstate 255, MODOT said. The detour for non-local traffic was Highway 100 from Gray Summit to I-270.

MODOT also provided the following information about I-44 westbound exits as of 1 p.m. Thursday:

▪  275 (soccer park) was closed

▪  274 (Bowles Avenue) was open

▪  272 (Route 141) was closed

▪  269 (Antire Road) was open

▪  266 (Lewis Road) was open

▪  264 (Route 109) was open north of I-44

▪  261 (Six Flags) was open

▪  257 (Pacific) was open

▪  253 (Gray Summit) was open

Further south, MODOT closed the Chester Bridge at noon on Thursday, according to the agency’s website.

The Ranolph County Herald Tribune reported that Illinois Department of Transportation officials were monitoring flooding on Nine Mile Creek along Illinois 3 between Evansville and Ellis Grove.

IDOT reported the water was 8 inches from the white line Thursday afternoon, the Tribune stated. As the Kaskaskia River was expected to crest Saturday evening, it is highly probably Illinois 3 will be closed.

The National Weather Service forecast called for a 80 percent chance of rain, before midnight Thursday. The likelihood of rain falls to 40 percent on Friday during the early morning before disappearing from the forecast altogether through the weekend.

Mark Britt, a NWS meteorologist, said the organization isn’t going to have final data on rainfall totals until the storm has passed Friday morning.

But, he said preliminary data has rainfall totals for both storms at 6.53 inches in the Belleville and surrounding areas.

Through much of next week: Sunshine and warming temperatures. For now, though, more of the same, with rivers flooded, barge traffic stopped on the Mississippi and motorists having to find their way around closed or threatened roadways.

United States Geological Survey hydrologic technicians have been busy collecting water flow data on the Kaskaskia River near the Venedy Station in Washington County.

A flash-flood watch for the region remained in effect until 7 a.m. Friday. A flood warning remained in effect until 9 a.m. Friday. The area also remained under a hazardous weather outlook, warning of flooding and heavy rains.

Roadways closed Thursday due to flooding included the section of Illinois 158 between Illinois 161 and Illinois 177. That stretch is south of Scott Air Force Base.

Also, the single roadway into Eldon Hazlet State Park was scheduled to be closed at 8 a.m. Friday due to flooding. The closing of the roadway will force the temporary closure of the park, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Hazlet, which is the region’s largest state park, is at Carlyle Lake.

U.S. 50 west of Lebanon remained open early Thursday morning, but Silver Creek again appeared to be inching up toward the roadway. The stretch of highway was shut down earlier in the week due to flooding, but was reopened mid-morning Wednesday.

In Belleville, the Belleville Fire Department responded to a street lamp that had fallen over around 11:45 a.m. at Laurette Lane and 17th Street. The pole appeared to have been rotting at the base for some time and that the week of rain may have finally caused it to topple, firefighters said.

The pole fell across Laurette Lane and didn’t have a large impact on 17th Street traffic, though a wire from the pole — it had only one, for its own power — was still live, Fire Chief Jason Unverzagt said.

Ameren arrived at noon to remove the danger.

At Illinois 177/Mascoutah Avenue, the parking lot was completely under water at the Family Sportsplex.

Illinois State Police responded to a one-vehicle accident when a driver turned too fast on the wet road and flipped over in a Ford Explorer at 12:55 p.m. Thursday at Illinois 161 and Renth Road, Master Sergeant Jeff Snyder said. The driver was taken to a hospital in an ambulance, but Snyder did not know the extent of the driver’s injuries.

Floodwaters also covered the roadway on South 29th Street in Belleville Thursday afternoon. The road, which runs from Main Street near Union School to South Belt West, was submerged in a low area near the beltline.

In Missouri, all lanes of southbound Interstate 55 in Arnold were open to traffic between St. Louis and Jefferson counties on Thursday morning. The Meramec River crested early Thursday morning and Missouri Department of Transportation crews began opening lanes as the water receded. Northbound I-55 remained open yesterday during the flooding of the southbound lanes.

“The cresting of Meramec River is the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel,” said MoDOT assistant district engineer Tom Blair. “This crest means there could possibly be other roads opening soon.”

The seven-day forecast:

Today ... Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 51. Breezy, with a north wind 18 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent.

Tonight ... Rain likely, mainly before 4am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 44. Breezy, with a north wind 20 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent.

Friday ... A chance of rain before 7am, then a chance of showers between 7am and 1pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 63. North wind 15 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Friday night ... Mostly clear, with a low around 46. West wind 5 to 11 mph.

Saturday ... Mostly sunny, with a high near 69. West wind 8 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.

Saturday night ... Mostly clear, with a low around 44.

Sunday ... Sunny, with a high near 68.

Sunday night ... Mostly clear, with a low around 49.

Monday ... Mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

Monday night ... Partly cloudy, with a low around 56.

Tuesday ... Mostly sunny, with a high near 79.

Tuesday night ... Mostly clear, with a low around 59.

Wednesday ... Mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

As Illinois lawmakers again busy themselves micro-managing what is taught in schools, the BND Editorial Board decides to write them a letter — in cursive — about the many unfunded mandates they have placed on our schools. We also ask about that ma