The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 8, 2014

Flooding closes Mississippi River bridges

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Two Mississippi River bridges closed due to flooding, and with more storms in the forecast, there was growing concern Monday that conditions could worsen in parts of Missouri and Illinois.

The Champ Clark Bridge at Louisiana, Missouri, closed at 5 p.m. Sunday, creating an inconvenience for those who travel between Missouri and Illinois on U.S. 54. The nearest bridge is in Hannibal, Missouri, 35 miles to the north. The river is expected to crest nearly 10 feet above flood stage in Louisiana on Tuesday, but it could be the weekend before water is off the road on the Illinois side of the crossing.

The Quincy Memorial Bridge in Quincy, Illinois, shut down Monday morning. The impact there wasn't as severe because Quincy — with 41,000 residents, the largest Mississippi River town between Davenport, Iowa (population 100,000) and St. Louis — has two bridges. Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Paris Ervin said all traffic is being routed to the Bayview Bridge, which sits higher than the Memorial and is not threatened.

Water levels on the Mississippi shot up in the past couple of weeks due to a series of strong storms in the Upper Midwest. Flooding has closed roads and swamped thousands of acres of farmland in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

The river was starting to drop in Iowa towns including Burlington and Keokuk, but still rising in Missouri and Illinois. Crests — in some cases 10 feet above flood stage — were expected this week.

But more rain was on the way, this time in northern Missouri, potentially adding water to the Mississippi just north of St. Louis. This could cause an increase in the Missouri River, which is below flood stage. National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fuchs said 2 inches of rain or more were possible Monday night and Tuesday morning.

"It's definitely getting into the realm of major flooding, no question about it," Fuchs said. "If the Missouri does go up into flood stage, that will aggravate things from St. Louis to points south."

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