Most flooded roads open again, at enormous cost
By John Weiss
You can now get there from here in the flood-ravaged part of southeastern Minnesota — at least in most places.
Record rains hammered towns and fields Aug. 18-19, and with lesser amounts a few days later, and also gouged sections of roads, cut into embankments and shed masses of mud onto roads.
For at least a week after the flood, getting around was hard in parts of Winona, Fillmore and Houston counties.
Now, most roads in those counties are open, though some of the hardest hit are closed or having final work done.
• All Fillmore County roads are open now, though work crews had to work many extra hours both on about 25 places where roads needed fill and in Rushford, which was badly flooded, said Dave Nelson, maintenance supervisor. On one stretch of Fillmore County Road 27 near Rushford, the road needed 110 truckloads of rock, he said.
"We should be back in shape for wintertime," Nelson said.
Just how much repairs will cost is hard to say, but it’s not going to be cheap, said County Coordinator Karen Brown. Much of the cost will be paid through state and federal money. She estimated that costs will be $1.5 million to $2.5 million in one area alone. Township roads also took a beating, she said.
The county is working with federal officials to find ways to prevent mudslides and other problems in the future, she said.
• Winona County has three roads still closed. They are County Road 33 between U.S. 14 and County Road 27 near Altura, due to a big culvert that washed out; County Road 37 south of Crystal Springs Trout Hatchery east of Elba; and County Road 120 east of Farmers Park, west of Stockton. The County Road 39 bridge over the Whitewater River is open, but limited to smaller vehicles.
Also, Minnesota Highway 74 through the Whitewater Valley is closed.
The cost of repairs is uncertain because adding up costs hasn’t been a priority yet, said Highway Engineer Dave Kramer.
"We have been focusing on getting the roads open and safe and repaired, and we haven’t had a chance to tally everything," he said.
But he estimated the cost at $3 million, just for county roads.
All roads should be open by winter, he said, though the bridge over the Whitewater will still be limited to smaller vehicles.
• In Houston County, County Road 26 west of Money Creek north of Houston is closed, as is County Road 13 from Houston to the Fillmore County line. Several roads are open to local traffic only.
Minnesota Highway 76 north of Houston is closed because a bridge washed out. The Minnesota Department of Transportation began work on repairing that bridge Wednesday and expects it to be done in two months. The detour goes through Rushford.