A year of inconvenience, frustration as well as lost time and money has come to an end as the commute routes for those living and working in southeast Nebraska return to normal.
Missouri has finished repairs on US 159 from Rulo to Interstate 29, which follows on the heels of repairs to Iowa 2 east of Nebraska City and US 136 from Brownville to I-29.
The repairs, according to Nebraska Department of Roads District Engineer Tom Goodbarn, end a commuter nightmare.
“People did incredibly well, it’s just the time and money endurance,” Goodbarn says. “You know, you’re paying for extra gas and you’re wasting a couple of hours of your life if not more going either direction if you had to commute.”
For some, the flood caused inconvenience. For others, it became much more.
Residents of southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri who work in southeast Nebraska, such as those working at the Cooper Nuclear power plant at Brownville, saw their commutes stretch for an extra half an hour to two hours. Some gave up the drive. They rented apartments or rooms in extended stay hotels.
Iowa completed repairs of Iowa 2 in late October. Missouri completed repairs to US 136 a few days later, approximately four months after the routes closed. Repairs to US 136 took longer. A spokeswoman from the Missouri Department of Transportation says inclement weather delayed repair of the scour holes left behind by the floodwaters. It reopened six months after closing.
Nebraska roads took a pounding this summer as both commuters and truckers had to use Nebraska 75 and 73 until I-29 reopened.
Goodbarn says commuters handled the detours well or, at least, as well as could be expected.
“We do the best we can with what we’re given. Nobody expected the river to rise like that and I hope we don’t see it again,” Goodbarn says with a chuckle.