FLOOD UPDATE: All lanes of southbound Interstate 55 open, schools shut down

Meramec River crested early Thursday

FLOOD UPDATE: All lanes of southbound Interstate 55 open, schools shut down

By Gloria Lloyd

All lanes of southbound Interstate 55 in Arnold are open to traffic between St. Louis and Jefferson counties.

The Meramec River crested early Thursday morning and MoDOT crews began opening lanes as the water receded. Northbound I-55 remained open yesterday during the flooding of the southbound lanes.

“The cresting of Meramec River is the beginning of the light at the end of the tunnel,” MoDOT-St. Louis Asst. District Engineer Tom Blair stated in a news release. “This crest means there could possibly be other roads opening soon.”

The Mehlville School District and Lindbergh Schools canceled classes for the second day in a row due to employees from Jefferson County not being able to get to work.

The Meramec River crossings on Route 61/67 at Lemay Ferry Road/Jeffco Boulevard and Route 231 at Telegraph Road stayed open all day Wednesday, despite promises that they would also close after midnight.

But both could possibly close in advance of the Arnold crest, city officials said. Route 21 is already closed at the Meramec, as are Route 30/Gravois and Route 141 at Romaine Creek.

Heavy rains over the weekend still have more than 270 roads closed across the state, according to MoDOT, including many in south county (see below for a full list).

As of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, traffic had been moving in both directions at the last St. Louis County exits at Meramec Bottom and Route 141, along with Richardson Road in Arnold.

MoDOT initially said I-55 at the Meramec River between St. Louis and Jefferson counties to close after midnight Tuesday night and remain closed for the rest of week.

With all the bridges to Jefferson County set to be cut off, both Lindbergh Schools and the Mehlville School District canceled classes at all buildings Wednesday. The Fox School District already called off Tuesday and is out again Wednesday due to flooding.

Since up to 20 percent of Mehlville employees live in Jefferson County, including many bus drivers, the district would have too many staff vacancies to hold classes. Bus routes Tuesday were delayed due to flooding in Oakville.

Lindbergh will also not have enough teachers, support staff or food service workers to hold school.

Interstate 44 remains closed in two locations. Travelers need to make plans to find alternate routes to travel east and west and now north and south in Missouri. Motorists should check Missouri’s Traveler Information Map at

before traveling.

All of the interstate and major route closures in St. Louis at the Meramec River will cut off St. Louis from any roads to the south. Motorists who need to travel between southeast Missouri and St. Louis will have to find through routes in Illinois.

Interstate 44 is closed from I-270 to Route 100 in St. Louis and Franklin counties and also between St. Roberts and Lebanon in south central Missouri. Travelers headed across Missouri should avoid using I-44 due to these closures. Use Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City and then use Interstate 435 to Interstate 49 to Joplin to reconnect to Interstate 44. All work zones have been suspended on this detour to allow for optimal traffic flow.

I-44 between St. Robert and Rolla is back open to traffic after having been closed due to flooding since Sunday afternoon. However it is for local traffic only. I-44 remains closed between St. Robert and Lebanon. Workers are making repairs to the flood-damaged pavement at the bridge near Hazelgreen.

The following are some of the major routes closed or that will close in the next few hours:

• I-44 in St. Louis/Franklin counties between I-270 and Route 100.

• I-44 between St. Roberts and Lebanon.

• Route 141 at I-44 in St. Louis County.

• Route 30/Gravois Road in St. Louis County at Meramec River.

• Route 21/Tesson Ferry in St. Louis County at Meramec River and Route 141 at Route 21 before Tuesday evening rush hour.

• Route 109 in Eureka in St. Louis County will close overnight.

• Route 63 near Vienna, between Rolla and Jefferson City.

• Route 50 at Mount Sterling in Gasconade County.

Most of the major routes are not expected to reopen until late in the week due to rising waters on the major rivers. Updates will be provided to the public as major routes continue to close and open.

Motorists are reminded that not all flooded roads will have closure signs. MoDOT cautions all travelers to never drive through water on the roadway. Turn around and find an alternate route. Remember the slogan, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” Flash flooding is particularly dangerous at night or the early morning hours when motorists often cannot see they are driving into floodwaters until it’s too late. Less than a foot of moving water is enough to push a vehicle.

When the water recedes, MoDOT will inspect the pavement and bridges for safety before opening the roadways for public use.

Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map to stay current on all flooding closures at

. The map is also available as a free app on iTunes and Google play listed as MoDOT Traveler Information. You can also call 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636) for up-to-date information.