Flood warnings are out for hundreds of miles of creeks and rivers including the Raccoon, the Skunk and the Iowa river. Mike Krohn is District One Maintenance Manager for the state Department of Transportation, which has staff looking for situations where water may rise over the roads.
They keep an eye on the rivers and roads, and post signs to warn motorists if water’s lapping over a road. If it gets severe enough, they’ll close a road. He says his agency may use the DOT’s big new electronic displays to warn travelers if flooding threatens to block a highway.
They can flip a switch on the Dynamic Message Signs, but the problem is having one of the permanent DMS boards in the right place. The department also will use portable electric signs, towed to the spot where they’ll be set up to warn travelers.
When creeks and rivers are running full and fast, Krohn says it’s not just water over the roads that may cause a threat to travel. They also watch bridges and other structures for the water eroding away land under and alongside bridges. He says highway engineers know which ones are likely to be trouble spots, so if they issue a warning and the bridge looks fine, he’d recommend you take the advice to use extra caution.