Rising water prompts more road, park closures along Minnesota River

A river getting higher
The Minnesota River was nearly touching the bottom of the State Highway 99 bridge at St. Peter, Minn., on Tuesday. With the river still rising, the bridge closed on Wednesday morning.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Updated: 10:35 a.m.

Rising water is prompting more closures of Minnesota River crossings between the Twin Cities and Mankato. And after being reopen for just two days, Fort Snelling State Park has closed again due to flooding.

Runoff from heavy rain over the past week has swollen the river, bringing it back to flood stage at New Ulm and Mankato and points downstream.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said the State Highway 99 bridge at St. Peter closed at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The Highway 22 bridge at St. Peter already was closed due to construction — leaving the nearest open river crossings about 10 miles to the north or south.

Traffic on a highway with water
Traffic heads west from Le Sueur, Minn., along State Highway 93 on Tuesday, shortly before the highway was closed to traffic due to encroaching floodwaters from the Minnesota River.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

To the north, State Highway 93 between Le Sueur and U.S. Highway 169 closed on Tuesday afternoon. The city can still be accessed from Highway 169 to the north, using County Highway 22.

Three of the four main routes to and from the city of Henderson are now closed: State Highway 93 to the south, State Highway 19 to the west, and Sibley County Highway 6 to the north.

That means getting from Henderson to nearby Le Sueur, or to the Twin Cities or Mankato, requires a lengthy detour.

“It really gets to be a pain in the butt. And then the businesses in town basically go on zombie mode because people can’t get here,” Henderson Mayor Keith Swenson told MPR News earlier in the week. “It’s like $60,000 a day that we’ve actually run the math on, that we lose in losses to business and also extra expenses to the citizens.”

Other closed river crossings include the bridge at Blakely, north of Henderson, as well as the bridge north of Jordan.

The river is still rising, forecast to climb about another foot at Mankato before cresting sometime Thursday. The flood crest is expected to reach Henderson late Friday or early Saturday, and Jordan and Savage late in the weekend or early next week.

A fishing pier is seen dislodged from the shore of a lake
The Snelling Lake fishing pier at Fort Snelling State Park in the Twin Cities is seen dislodged from shore on Monday. The pier was pushed away from shore during spring flooding at the park along the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Fort Snelling State Park closed again

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday morning that Fort Snelling State Park is once again temporarily closed due to the rising Minnesota River — just two days after the park had reopened after a nearly monthlong previous closure.

“We are disappointed to close Fort Snelling State Park for the second time this spring but must do so out of concern for visitor and staff safety,” Ann Pierce, director of the DNR Parks and Trails Division, said in a news release.

The river is expected to again flood the main road and parking lots at the popular park in the river bottom near the Twin Cities airport. The park will remain closed until staff can assess and repair damage, and remove any flood debris.

The earlier round of spring flooding left debris on trails, and dislodged the fishing pier at Snelling Lake.

Some other riverside parks and roads in St. Paul remain closed, including Lilydale Regional Park and a long stretch of Shepard/Warner Road near downtown.

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