The snowmelt and rainfall are impacting several highways throughout the south-central Minnesota region.
“The ditches are full of snow, they’re full of ice and just not able to get the proper drainage to happen,” explained Minnesota Department of Transportation District 7 Maintenance Engineer Jed Falgren, “We’ve got culverts that are blocked, we’ve got drainage intakes that are froze up.”
Among the major impacts, he said, is flooding on Highway 169 just north of Mankato where, “The southbound lane is partially covered by water. There is a culvert that runs under Highway 169 that is not taking as much water as we’d like. There appears to maybe be some downstream obstruction east of Highway 169 and it’s probably snow that’s in the drainage ditch itself.”
They are currently evaluating the situation to determine the best course of action. Falgren said crews are, “Seeing what we can do in the interim and also take a look at what could potentially be done downstream to get that stream flowing again.”
There is water on the roadway in both directions on Minnesota Highway 99 east of Le Center as well as flooding on Interstate 90 two miles east of Austin. Transportation officials also report flooding on Minnesota Highway 60 just north of U.S. Highway 14. MnDOT’s Rebecca Arndt said over 20 locations were impacted Wednesday night alone in south central Minnesota, and several more problem areas have surfaced Thursday.
“In most cases, MnDOT is able to keep roadways open while crews work to clear a drainage path for the water,” she added.
The organization is also reminding Minnesotans that driving through standing or moving water is dangerous and that it is illegal to drive through areas where roads are barricaded. Arndt explained, “Vehicles can be swept away in only several inches of moving water.”
Falgren also cautioned drivers, “Any time we’ve got small amounts of water on the roadway the chance of hydroplaning goes up significantly so we certainly want drivers slowing down, taking their time.”
Falgren said that they have crews working roadside in many areas, clearing blocked culverts and performing other maintenance, and he also asked drivers to use additional caution when driving through those work zones to help keep them safe. More than 40 MnDOT plows have been hit by vehicles so far this winter.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the region through Thursday evening, and meteorologists caution that a return to below freezing temperatures on Friday will likely transform any standing water to ice.