Flooding closes highways in eastern Iowa, US

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Interstate 80 is closed in Cedar County, Iowa, east of the Iowa City area, due to flooding from the Iowa River and Coralville Lake. The flooding that has devastated cities in eastern Iowa has travelled downstream and is now threatening Iowa City and Coralville, both of which have issued evacuations for low-lying areas. Flooding on the Cedar River earlier filled Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with record-breaking water levels.

Interstate 80 is closed between mile markers 266 and 267, with a 281-mile long detour to get around it: Eastbound through traffic must leave I-80 at Des Moines and travel north along Interstate 35 then east to Dubuque via U.S. Route 20, where it can move south along U.S. Route 61 to return to Interstate 80 at the Quad Cities, with westbound through traffic following the opposite route. Local traffic is being allowed, since this shuts off a 150-mile stretch of highway.

Interstate 380 has also been closed, between mile markers 4 and 10, due to flooding from the Iowa River and Lake Coralville. This, combined with the flooding of the bridges across the Cedar River at Cedar Rapids, effectively cuts Cedar Rapids off from Iowa City; the only way between the two cities, normally 30 miles apart, is a 281-mile long detour that takes drivers through Des Moines.

The Cedar River at Cedar Rapids crested today at a record-breaking 31.1 feet, nearly 20 feet above flood stage. The Iowa River is expected to crest at Iowa City at 33 feet, 11 feet over flood stage and 4.5 feet over the record, on the morning of June 17.