Crews work to repair weekend flood damage on St. Louis County roads

Crews work to repair weekend flooding damage on roads in St. Louis County
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 7:57 PM CDT
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ST LOUIS COUNTY, MN. (KBJR) - Though many Northlanders look forward to spring, the annual snowmelt can wreak havoc on Minnesota’s roads.

Last weekend, seven roads across northern Saint Louis County suffered extensive water damage and were forced to close.

On Heritage Trail (County State Aid Highway 20) near McKinley, flooding damage caused the culvert to fail.

According to Dennis Stordahl, a Senior Operator for Saint Louis County, when he arrived on the scene, the excessive draining from rain and snowmelt washed away gravel supporting the road.

“We got a full crew in this morning and got everybody off to start working on it,” said Stordahl. “There was no base material to support the blacktop.”

Stordahl said this caused a major problem, as many people rely on this road in particular.

“Being that County Road 20 is a major artery in this section of the county, there’s a lot of day to day traffic,” Stordahl said.

Part of the cause of the damage is the extended cold weather.

According to officials, when the ground is still frozen, it can’t absorb the water, rain and melting snow, so ditches fill up quickly.

“It’s just been very wet, very cold, and a lot of snow,” said Gordon Halverson, Saint Louis County’s Highway Division Superintendent.

According to Halverson, overall the roads are in pretty good shape, but they just can’t take this much water.

“There’s just too much volume of water for the ditch capacity and culvert capacity,” said Halverson.

He said this hasn’t been the worst year he’s seen for road flooding, but it’s tougher than usual.

“It doesn’t happen every year but it’s not unprecedented by any means,” said Halverson.

The crews working to repair roads have some advice for drivers in case they spot a flooded section of road in the coming weeks.

“Notify 911 and they’ll send a sheriff out or they’ll call supervisors and have them check it out,” said Stordahl.

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