ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — As spring floodwaters rise, so does a lot of orange road closure signs. Flooding of low-lying roadways across the state has forced road crews to close down access to a number of state and county highway. It’s also forcing commuters who need to cross the state’s rivers to rack up more miles and fill up more often.
“People who live in Chanhassen that work for us, their commute went from five minutes to about 50 minutes,” said Chad Bauman.
Bauman works at the Dueco, Inc. in Shakopee. With the Minnesota Highway 41 and Highway 101 bridges closed, the 27,000 trucks and cars that would normally cross each day have limited choices.
“If you can’t get across 41, you’ll go 169 up to the Eden Prairie area … Otherwise, you have to go down to Belle Plain and cross the river there right now,” said Bauman.
Along the still rising Minnesota River near Jordan, commuters are also being forced to choose new routes to work. Dennis Allar’s wife is among them.
“It was a really easy commute before. She just would take 9 up to 212 and then go in that way. Now, she’s got to go all the way over and come back up to 212,” said Allar.
To accommodate the extra traffic flow, lanes have been added to the Highway 169-Minnesota River crossing.
To Allar, it’s a minor inconvenience that could last awhile. His wife is putting a lot more miles on the family car.
“It’s going to do this again in another week or two, so she’d better get used to it,” he said.
In downtown St. Paul, rising water has overtaken Harriet Island and the St. Paul Yacht Club. Crews are working non-stop, moving about 150 big boats from a winter storage parking lot to the safe keeping of higher ground.
One of those big houseboats belongs to Greg Jorgensen.
“It’s a challenge if it rises up. These guys have been working so hard in the yacht club. It’s very amazing and very impressive,” said Jorgensen.
The evidence is obvious as you drive along Water Street near Harriet Island. For the better part of two weeks, crews have been jacking and blocking, lifting and loading the boats to temporary storage.
“Last week we worked 10- and 11-hour days and Saturday and Sunday. We’ve been working seven days a week,” said yacht club worker Gary Deisting.
If left in place, rising waters would surely toss them about, resulting in costly damage.
“And once the floods are done, we have to move them back in the lot,” said Deisting.