Memorial Bridge to close Saturday in response to rising river

An IDOT crew clears driftwood and debris away from the west approach to the Memorial Bridge on Wednesday. The bridge will be closed Saturday because of high water. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Jul. 4, 2014 4:57 pm Updated: Jul. 18, 2014 5:15 pm

By MATT HOPFHerald-Whig Staff Writer

Because of rising Mississippi River levels, the Illinois Department of Transportation will shut down the Quincy Memorial Bridge on Saturday and divert eastbound traffic on U.S. 24 to the Quincy Bayview Bridge.

IDOT did not announce what time the bridge would close, and officials weren't available for comment Friday afternoon.

The National Weather Service projects that the river will crest at 28.5 feet Tuesday. Friday evening, the river level in Quincy was just over 23 feet. Flood stage in Quincy is 17 feet.

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said the city is in contact with local levee districts to see whether any help is needed for potential sandbagging efforts.

"The ones that I have talked to said they were fine and in good shape," Moore said. "Right now, nothing is being asked of us. I did let them know that if they did need the city's help, that we would be more than happy to get a sandbagging operation underway. We do have plans for that, so if it rises faster than expected, we'll be able mobilize a community effort."

Officials said they are closely monitoring the river situation and reminded motorists not to drive through flooded areas or roads covered by water that might seem shallow enough to cross.

This is the second time the Memorial Bridge has been closed in two years. In April 2013, it was closed for five days when the river crested at over 27 feet.

"Obviously we're going to be paying attention to the river levels to see what other roads may need to be closed, and of course, working with IDOT to make sure that the traffic flow is going to remain safe for motorists," Moore said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation also announced Friday that it closed Mo. 79 just south of Louisiana because of rising floodwater. The low areas near Buffalo Creek from South Carolina and Delaware streets south of Route D are covered with water.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials had expected a Mississippi River lock and dam north of St. Louis to close to navigation Friday amid fears of worsening flooding. But by late Friday morning, the corps had adjusted its expectation to close Lock and Dam 24 in Clarksville, Mo., sometime Sunday.

Davor Karic, a civil engineer with the corps in St. Louis, said the lock and dam closes when the river level at Clarksville reaches 32.5 feet. It's expected to reach 33.5 feet Sunday and crest at 35.4 feet Thursday -- more than 10 feet above flood stage.

Farther south at Lock and Dam 25 at Winfield, Mo., the river level was at 30.5 feet Friday, nearly 5 feet above flood stage. It's expected to crest at 35.4 feet Thursday. Corps of Engineers officials will close it to navigation when it reaches 33.5 feet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.