Flood damages many Superior, Douglas County roadsThe good news in Superior and northern rural Douglas County was that the Nemadji River was beginning to recede.
By: Shelley Nelson and Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The good news in Superior and northern rural Douglas County was that the Nemadji River was beginning to recede.
The bad news is that recovery is going to take some time.
After all, in the city of Superior alone, several roads washed out or giant sinkholes opened up after about 10 inches of rain fell on an already saturated Northland.
“Right now, we’re in a continued assessment,” said Mayor Bruce Hagen. “There’s some good news, and there’s some news that repairs won’t be coming very quickly because of the nature of the damage.”
The major damage occurred mainly by Superior High School on North 28th Street; North 21st Street between Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and the CenturyTel building, largely by the tracks; and Marina Drive between the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center and Barker’s Island, which washed completely away. A big question mark hung over Woodlawn Drive near the golf course after the road was overtaken by the Nemadji River on Wednesday evening.
“Once the water recedes, we’ll see what’s left,” said Assistant Public Works Director Todd Janigo. “If last year is any indication, it’ll be a washout.”
Working in the city’s favor Wednesday was a decision to use concrete barriers along U.S. Highway 2/53, which eliminated the need for a “drastic detour” that would have resulted if the river had overtaken the road, Hagen said. While traffic on the highway was restricted to one lane of travel in each direction Thursday morning, causing lengthy delays for commuters, the river’s recession left only the right lane closed to eastbound travel by early afternoon and all lanes reopened by mid-afternoon Thursday, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
“One thing that we saw (Wednesday) was great cooperation between the city and county, and the state,” said County Administrator Andy Lisak.
To address the most serious problems on Marina Drive, North 28th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, Hagen said the city will put emergency repairs out to the private sector. With the amount of work involved in those repairs, he said tapping the private sector would free up city street crews to shore up roads that are in danger, such as those with washed out shoulders.
Douglas County Highway crews were scattered throughout the northern half of the county Thursday dealing with storm damage, according to Highway Commissioner Paul Halverson.
Rural Douglas County had at least 10 roads in which culverts completely washed out, said David Sletten, the county’s emergency planner and risk assessor.
Douglas County was forced to close 16 different stretches of road, including two stretches along State Highway 13 because they were impassible. By Thursday, only two had reopened.
“We still have a number of roads that are still closed,” said Lisak. “The Highway Department has been out blocking roads for the most part.”
Two damaged sections of road are expected to be passable again by this morning — County Highway C near Perham Road and County Highway A from the city limits to County Highway C.
A number of projects won’t be tackled until water recedes, including the County Highway W bridge over the Nemadji River and County Highway W near Irondale Road.
Information concerning county road closures, as well as a map of the closed roads, is being kept up to date at douglascountywi.org.