Metro-East News

Snowplows get summer duty to scrape mud, slime off roadways that were flooded

Cleanup underway in Alton and flooded river towns in Illinois

Workers in Alton and other Mississippi and Illinois river towns are removing temporary flood walls, sandbags and cleaning up debris and mud left behind from the flooded rivers. Cities are hoping to restore access to closed businesses and roads.
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Workers in Alton and other Mississippi and Illinois river towns are removing temporary flood walls, sandbags and cleaning up debris and mud left behind from the flooded rivers. Cities are hoping to restore access to closed businesses and roads.

Crews cleaning up Southern Illinois roads that have been submerged for weeks or months beneath floodwaters are using fire hoses and snowplows to clear the roadways of mud, slime and debris.

As floodwater slowly creeps back into area rivers, workers with the Illinois Department of Transportation are starting the cleanup process while assessing the damage left behind.

IDOT Region 5 Operations Engineer Joseph Monroe said, so far, most of the damage has been erosion to the shoulders of roads.

“What we’re finding with the ones we’ve been able to reopen is a lot of shoulder erosion and erosion around culverts and other drainage structures,” Monroe said. “Most surfaces, thus far, have not been damaged as we originally feared.”

While submerged, floodwater acts as a lubricant for the pavement, loosening its bonds. As current, winds and even storms push the water around the surface, material may be pulled away from the sides of the road.

“The rock will typically just wash away,” he said, calling the problem fairly common. “We haven’t run into anything that has been out of the ordinary.”

For culverts constantly trying to equalize pressure, climbing and receding floodwater contributes to erosion in the same way.

062719Dh sandbag alton.jpg
As floodwater slowly creeps back into Mississippi work crews remove sandbags and a temporary flood wall as cleanup efforts continue in downtown Alton. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

There has been some surface damage in Grafton and Alton, two of the metro-east’s worst-hit areas for flooding. Monroe said mud was caked on so thick in some areas that workers needed a fire hose and snowplow to remove it.

In Michael, an area between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers north of Hardin, one road on a slope was moved 1,500 feet away from its original spot.

In most places, though, Monroe said damage won’t delay roads from being reopened. He said only time can tell the true extent of the damage.

“It’s nothing that will prohibit the road from being opened, but it is something we’ll have to address as time and workload allow,” he said.

062719Dh clean lot.jpg
As floodwater slowly creeps back into Mississippi a worker cleans the parking lot to the Alton Marina. Work crews were busy around Alton Thursday removing sandbags and temporary flood walls as cleanup efforts continue in the area. Derik Holtmann dholtmann@bnd.com

As rivers continue to recede, more and more roads are being assessed and cleaned. Monroe said he is optimistic about the state of most of the uncovered roads. Roads that may be submerged until mid-July may be a different story.

“We have several roadways that remain under,” he said. “We’re optimistic that we won’t have anything significant but we don’t expect to see a significant fall in the river until next week.”

Monroe stressed that drivers should avoid roads that remain closed, even it it appears to be dry. Debris, slick mud, road repairs and more can make roadways dangerous, he said, urging drivers to respect barriers and detours.

The following road and facility closures continue due to flooding:
  • IL 100 from US 67 in Alton to IL 16 in Jersey County,
  • IL 3 in Chester, Truck By-Pass (Water Street),
  • IL 155 outside of Prairie du Rocher,
  • Brussels Ferry,
  • Kaskaskia Street in Chester,
  • IL 100 in Calhoun County from junction of IL16/100 in Jersey County to Pike County (revised),
  • IL 96 from County Highway 2 to Pike County Line (some roads open to local traffic),
  • IL 3, in Randolph County, at Mary’s River to the Jackson County line,
  • IL 16/100 between Eldred and Hardin including the Joe Page Bridge,
  • IL 96, Kampsville, from IL 100 to Jefferson Avenue,
  • IL 3, in Grafton, from Grafton Hills Road to IL 100, and
  • Eldred Road from IL 108 to IL 16/100, Greene County
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Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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