Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I want my Minnesota River crossings back

I'll preface this by saying that I'm thankful - even with my proximity to a severely flooded Minnesota River - that my house is dry. Not even a drop of moisture in my basement which, based on my daughter's reaction, is a terribly scary place. My gripe today centers around the highways which usually give us a safe and effective crossing across that very river.

For whatever reason, though, these highways - some after even multiple reconstructions - weren't raised above flood levels which now place them under water for weeks at a time. Did you know that right now you can cross the Minnesota River at only one place between LeSueur and Bloomington. That's a 50 mile stretch of river dividing the state with one viable river crossing at this time. That hampers commerce, commuters and business in general.

My commute, as these crossings closed, went from about 30 minutes to an hour. It's a hassle, sure, but at least my house is dry and we can still get to most places we need to. But those highways, why weren't they reconstructed to remain passable during floods like the one we're currently experiencing. If built properly, a road above current flood levels would also act as a levee to add some control to the flood waters and it wouldn't result in such a pain in the ass for thousands of drivers who are dealing with my predicament on a daily basis.

Was there no forward vision after what many viewed to be the ultimate flood in 1965? And when it happened again in 1993 did state officials not notice a damn pattern developing? Wow, the same roadways are flooding but it's 3-5 feet of water. To me, 3-5 feet of additional height - especially through already disturbingly low areas - isn't an obstacle or a safety issue, it makes sense to add this additional height to these vital highways.

I'm not pretending to be a highway engineer - even though I do know my way around Legos - but wouldn't the cost of rebuilding even half of the currently closed river crossings across the Minnesota River when their time for reconstruction comes make financial sense? Or are we so fucked as a country that looking forward costs too much and we should even think twice about affording tomorrow?

If you like to see photos of what is flooded, check out MinnPics. It's a wealth of stunning photos from both dry and wet corners of Minnesota.

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