Editorial: Reducing East Main Street flooding must be a major priority

Published 8:19 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

It’s flooding season again, and one side of U.S. Highway 65 — also known as East Main Street — is closed because of water over the roadway.

“Again?” you might ask. It has become commonplace for Albert Leans to see portions of this road closed in spring when snow is melting or when there is heavy rainfall. It has been a problem for many years and led to closures as long as about two weeks in 2016.

The city and the Minnesota Department of Transportation are working to solve this problem, as the road is proposed for a mill and overlay in the second half of 2021 or 2022.

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City Engineer Steven Jahnke said Tuesday Barr Engineering is completing a flood study that will be presented to the City Council in the next month that looks at three options for fixing this problem. The options including raising the roadway 2 feet, installing a large pump station to keep the water below the roadway, or a combination of raising the road and a smaller pump station.

Jahnke said the city, Shell Rock River Watershed District and MnDOT are also working on a bonding proposal to obtain funding for the project.

We encourage the city and MnDOT to continue to make this project a priority. One of Albert Lea’s main thoroughfares, East Main Street affects not only local traffic, but businesses and motorists from out of town as well.

As the snowbanks continue to melt in the coming days, we hope East Main Street will not be affected too long — though it is likely to get worse before it gets better.

In the meantime, we remind motorists to not drive around barricades or into flooded areas. According to MnDOT, 6 inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars,  causing loss of control and possible stalling.