When flood waters broke through in southwestern Iowa, we spent a lot of focus on the lives being impacted. Homes were destroyed, livestock killed or injured, and farms almost literally washed away. Communities were coming together to clean up and help their neighbors. Some communities, like Pacific Junction and Hamburg, were completely under water. Businesses and gas stations along Interstate 29 (I-29) were destroyed. Not to mention the shut down of the main artery itself.
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I-29 runs from the Canadian border all the way to Kansas City, Missouri. It connects to such cities as Omaha, NE/Council Bluffs, IA, Sioux City, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, Fargo, ND/ Moorhead, MN, and Grand Forks, ND. It is a major shipping artery that intersects with Interstates 94, 90, 80, and 35.
During the flooding, the highway was closed both north and south of Omaha/Council Bluffs, all the way to Northwest Missouri. Having traveled a bit of it when Vice President Pence came to Pacific Junction, I was able to see the damage being dealt with. Cleanup of debris was a major concern, along with making needed repairs to overpasses and verifying structural integrity.
The highway remains closed north of Council Bluffs between the I-680 bypass interchanges. There are some restrictions south of Council Bluffs to be aware of. There are still instances of single-lane, head-to-head traffic. This means no oversized or overweight vehicles will be permitted.
The target to have the Interstate back open was June 1st, and then Memorial Day Weekend. However, crews were able to get this section ready ahead of schedule. There is no update on the timeline for I-29 north of Council Bluffs. US 34 also remains closed from I-29 to Bellevue, NE connection.
This signals a start to returning to normalcy for southwest Iowa and Southeast Nebraska. For almost two months smaller towns and highways have been handling large amounts of bypass traffic. There is a long way to go in the recovery for citizens, but this is a step in the right direction.