Possible Flooding Could Clog St. Paul Commute

By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Potential flooding will affect the Monday morning commute for some drivers in St. Paul. Construction on a temporary levee will begin and crews will shut down a section of Shepard Road at 9 a.m.

The Mississippi River flooded in that area twice last year, but neighbors expect this year to be much worse.

Al Mayer and his friends are getting their walk along the Mississippi River in now. He expects the riverfront paths will be underwater by next Sunday.

“We’re all hikers and bikers, so we know a lot of things are going to be flooded,” Mayer said.

In St. Paul, the Mississippi is expected to hit the flood stage of 14 feet by Thursday. Major flooding at 18 feet is expected by Sunday.

Those who live near the river on Shepard Road, just hope the predictions of record flooding are wrong.

“We’re getting more warnings that the garages might flood and we may need to be evacuated,” said Kathleen Lepp, who lives in a riverfront condo.

Ann Wilhemy, who has lived in a riverfront condo for three years, said like every year, they just have to wait and see.

“This year, we don’t know what to expect and that’s the problem,” she said.

To keep the rising water at bay, the city will start building a levee at Sibley and Jackson on Shepard Road.  Shepard Road from Eagle Parkway to Highway 61 could be off limits for weeks.

“Shepard is closing earlier than it did last year, so we’re just worried,” said Wilhelmy.

With certain streets closed, traffic could get ugly.

“It’s kind of a problem, because all the traffic is routed through downtown and it takes a long time to get anywhere,” said Tyler Winter, who works at a Caribou near the river.

Last spring, the river crested around 17 feet and Shepard Road was closed for about a week.  Drivers can use alternative routes into downtown St. Paul, such as Interstate 35 and I-94.

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