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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Various flood-oriented stories

I-94 Could be Closed for Weeks

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Authorities say Interstate 94 -- a major thoroughfare from Milwaukee to Madison -- could be closed for weeks.

Parts of the highway have been closed since flooding damaged much of southern Wisconsin in the week.

All lanes on Interstate 90-94 north of Madison were open by late Sunday, but I-94 westbound from Milwaukee between Delafield and Lake Mills is still closed.

…Wisconsin Emergency Management's Steve Olson says the reopening of westbound I-94 was not imminent.

Sharon Schmeling, chairwoman of the Jefferson County Board, says bridges must be inspected once the water recedes enough. She says that could delay the opening of the interstate for at least two weeks.
That's the red-colored bit of I-94 on the map below with the two little red balloons pointed at it.

View Larger Map

Luckily, there's a plan:

State Department of Transportation officials have executed an emergency contract to hire a company to build a crossover lane in the Johnson Creek area that will allow one lane of interstate traffic going eastbound and one lane going westbound.

The decision was made late Monday by state Transportation Secretary Frank Busalaachi. He said work crews were on the scene Tuesday morning getting the site ready for grading and paving.

"I just told them to do it," Busalaachi told the Journal Sentinel.

Busalaachi said he hoped the work would be completed by the end of the week.
So it'll be a slowdown, instead of an actual detour. This is road construction season. Wisconsinites are used to that kind of thing.

Here's something from the "he shouldn't have said that" file:

Busalacchi often commutes to Madison from his home in the Milwaukee area, and said he was personally inconvenienced by the closing of I-94.

"I'm getting hurt as much as anybody," he said.
Good thing he's not running for president, or somebody would make a mountain out of that statement.

More: Meeting tonight on future of Gays Mills

Residents of Gays Mills, Wis., will have a chance to learn about the future of their town tonight at a special meeting where the village board will present ideas to protect it from future floods.

An estimated 175 homes and businesses were affected last week when the Kickapoo River rose to 20.1 feet, more than 7 feet above flood stage. It was worse than the record flood of 1978, or the one just 10 months ago when the river level was within a hundredth of an inch of the record.

Some of the homes damaged last week were scheduled to be raised out of the flood plain.

One solution could be relocating the business district, something the upriver village of Soldiers Grove did after the 1978 flood.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Community Building on Main Street.
More: let's be careful out there:

MAUSTON — The Juneau County Sheriff’s Department says a man is dead after he took his motorcycle on a road closed due to flooding in Lemonweir Township.

Investigators say on Sunday afternoon the driver — a 43-year-old man from Friendship — ignored signs that a road was closed due to flood damage and drove around them.

They say he struck a washout and that caused him to lose control.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities say his passenger — a 45-year-old woman from Reedsburg — was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
It's not clear from the story whether the road was still flooded or not at the time. Standing water on the road makes it a lot harder to tell where the trouble spots are.

Crumbling and water-covered roads remain dangerous, even as the water is slowly receding, according to Columbia County Emergency Management Director Pat Beghin.

Beghin said Monday his greatest fear is that an unwitting motorist will drive around the barricades that indicate a closed road, end up in the water and possibly drown.
"People need to follow the signs," he said. "It's a high safety concern."

When water covers the roads, as they still do throughout Columbia County, it can be impossible to know whether there is already a sink hole or how soft the road is, or even if the road is still there.
Yeah, just ask that guy from the motorcycle accident. Or, rather, ask his passenger, since you can't ask him.

That situation happened on Highway 33 Monday, where a car was briefly stuck in a broken section of the road after trying to turn around.

Police have been giving out many warnings to motorists who drive around the barricades on closed roads, Portage police Assistant Chief Kevin O'Neill said.

"We don't put (the signs) up just for decoration," he said. "They find out very quickly there's a four-foot hole in the road."

It is up to the officer whether to issue a ticket — which would mean a fine of at least $83. The Portage Police Department issued at least one citation over the weekend to a motorist who ended up with his vehicle stuck in water along Highway 33, prompting a response by the Portage Police and the Portage Fire Department.

"(They are using) precious resources in an emergency," O'Neill said.
I drove out State 33 this morning from Baraboo to the I-90/94 onramp – or, rather, I almost drove to the onramp. That was closed, so I couldn't get near it.

But the trucks were there working on it, and the highway itself was just fine. The water is actually lower now than it was a week ago, I think.

Not that there aren't still some lakes out there, where there ought to be corn.