A three-mile stretch of Interstate 680 in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, will reopen to traffic this afternoon, nearly five months are being closed by Missouri River floodwaters. Iowa Department of Transportation spokesperson Dena Gray-Fisher says the floodwaters, which finally receded in September, turned the roadway into rubble.
“It left the concrete in shambles, it destroyed a lot of the roadway grade and really resulted in the need to do total replacement of the roadway,” Gray-Fisher said. Contractors started construction on the project on September 28 and worked 24 hours a day at times. The roadway is now opening several weeks earlier than planned.
Gray-Fisher said the relatively warm and dry conditions this fall helped crews complete the work earlier than expected. A Federal Highway Administration emergency relief program is paying for the $19 million project. This summer’s flooding in western Iowa also forced the rebuilding of much of Interstate 29, U.S. Highway 30 and state Highways 2, 175 and 333.
The I-680 reopening completes the flood rebuilding work on Iowa’s interstates. “We had 67 miles of interstate closed at one point during the flooding,” Gray-Fisher said. “We do have another roadway section that we want to get open this year. That is Iowa Highway 175 between Decatur, Nebraska and Onawa, Iowa. We also have small segment going into Hamburg on Iowa 333.”
A grand reopening ceremony for I-680 is scheduled for 1 p.m. Some of the participants in the ceremony include Governor Terry Branstad, U.S. D.O.T. Federal Highway Administration Administrator Victor Mendez and the mayors of Omaha and Council Bluffs. The program will include a “ceremonial relinking” of Iowa and Nebraska.