RIVER VALLEY, Ark. (KFSM) — Danny Straessle, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Transportation, has given an update for road closures and potential road closures for the River Valley during this historic flooding event.
Straessle says 10 segments in the River Valley are currently underwater, with the most prominent being Rogers Ave. and Hwy. 22. The U.S. Hwy. 64 bridge that carries traffic into Oklahoma is closed due to overtopping of the lanes in Oklahoma.
Crews are continually monitoring the rise of the river and reporting data back to the Corps of Engineers in order to determine what roads need to be closed.
“We are going to see historic flooding conditions, still too early to nail down impacts,” Straessle said. “Corp still has to do another model based on some of the elevations we are shooting. Once they have those numbers they will run models again with more recent data and we will be able to formulate our plans more accurately.”
Straessle says that as of right now, they are keeping an eye on Interstate 540 and State Hwy. 59, but they are still open.
Straessle says that if the bridges are closed it’s because of the water flow, not because of the structure itself. He says the bridges are designed to handle tremendous water flow.
“The bridges are not in any jeopardy per se, they are built to withstand flows like this. The structure itself is not going to be a problem,” Straessle said. “Where we are running into a challenge is the water rising up on the highway or what we call the approach to the bridge or from the bridge and that’s what is flooding and keeping traffic off these structures.”
Straessle says there are marked detours for drivers.
“The most challenging for DOT is the waiting game, we have a lot of lead time on this historic flooding event 500-year flood, which is phenomenal,” Straessle said. “That gives us plenty of time to plan, but we certainly haven’t wasted our memorial day weekend, all of us have been at work figuring out what the water is going to do which of our highways are going to be impacted and how do we move the traffic because all of us are going to work tomorrow.”
Click here for more travel information for iDrive Arkansas. There is a flooded road map on the website and Straessle says drivers absolutely should not cross any water that has a barricade because you don’t know what is under the water that is moving across the road.