Sunday, June 12, 2011

Missouri River Flooding along Council Bluffs and Omaha Bike Trails

Pell and I rode out Sunday morning to check out how flooding has affected bike facilities between the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in the north and the Veterans Memorial Bridge to the south.  What we found wasn't surprising, giving the history of flooding in some of these areas, but it was nice to document them with photos.

Please see the photos and captions below for some notes on the flooding.

Flood Gate #8.  Normally this is open to allow cyclists to access the Lewis and Clark Landing.

Flood Gate #8

Flood Gate #8.  Note the Bob Kerrey Bridge towers in the background.

The water is only a couple of feet from the top of the walk.

The view of the Omaha skyline from Council Bluffs.  This section of levee appears to have been fortified.

Harrah's Casino parking lot is flooded.  You can see geese on the gravel island.

The Iowa Riverfront Trail is officially closed heading south at Harrah's.

The bike trail passes underneath the parking garage.

The south side of the Harrah's Casino parking garage.

This water level photo shows the bike path simply slipping underneath the water.

The north side of the Ameristar Casino is flooded, as well.

The Iowa Riverfront Trail heading north is officially closed between Ameristar and Harrah's.

Not only is the bike trail closed heading south on River Road from Ameristar Casino, the road itself is closed.  Note the private security protecting the pumps and hoses running across the street.

The levee road heading south from the Western Historic Trails Center is closed.

The trail heading west from the Western Historic Trails Center is closed.

And this is why it's closed.  The trail is under 5-10 feet of water.

From this point on, we rode east to 24th Street in Council Bluffs and picked up the sidepath on Highway 92/275 (Veterans Memorial Parkway) and headed east back toward the South Omaha Bridge.

The trail is almost complete.  There's a missing section between the bridge and a block or so to the east.  The cement sidepath on toward the Willow's Motel is done, but still has "Sidewalk Closed" signs posted.

This used to be a gravel parking lot and trail access for dirt bike and ATV operators.

This looks like the river, but it's actually the motocross park just east of the river.

The Missouri River as seen from the Veterans Memorial Bridge bike path.

This is the first time I've seen the Omaha Riverfront Trail gate open north of the Veterans Memorial Bridge.  Cyclists normally have to lift their bikes over the gate.

This ramp was constructed to allow vehicles to pass over the pump hoses.

This facility is protected by sandbags.

Water is pumped across the levee back into a spillway to the Missouri River.

The pumps here were humming, creating quite a noise.

These hoses were not protected.  To our surprise, a a guy out siteseeing in his pickup truck drive right over the hoses.

There are several cabins and trailers on the wet side of the levee.  I wonder if they will come back after the water recede.

This house is underwater.

I heard that these ramps will flat a bike tire instantly.  I didn't even risk it, preferring to walk my bike over it.

Those welded on grips look very sharp to a high pressure tire.

The gate on the trail at Hickory Street was closed.  There was an OPD cruiser waiting, presumably for the guy in the truck.  The officers didn't say anything to us, but followed us on out to Hickory Street, moving barricades back into the street.

And for fun, Pell and I rode up Hickory Street Hill.

I like this view from the top of the hill in the Dahlman neighborhood.
I'd like to do a similar trip showing the Omaha and Council Bluffs trails heading north from downtown.

If you know of any other interesting spots showing flooding, please discuss below.


Vernon J said...

Its moving, I was at Lewis & Clark landing Friday & the water wasn't splashing on the landing yet.

Genevieve said...

I tried to take the NE trail north around the airport and ran into barricades as well...and OPD, the Parks Dept, AND the Corps of Engineers driving by to holler at cyclists. Parks guy told me (unofficially, of course) they're just not sure what to expect, that it could be as much as ten additional feet of water! It's likely we won't see many of these trails until next summer...

munsoned said...

Scott, in your opinion, if the water were to rise even 4 more feet, wouldn't it spill over to all the train tracks from that point right under the I-80 bridge(your 6th picture from the bottom)? The water is so close to the trail at that point. I don't understand why they don't have sandbags there yet.

Scott Redd said...

Thanks for the comments, Vernon, Genevieve and Mike.

I think the biggest danger at this point is water weakening the levee. They can only take so much saturation before they give in.

By the way, I corrected all of my misspellings of "levy" to "levee." Duh!

Joel said...

Oh sure, I tried riding the South Omaha levee trail on Friday (starting at the north end) and was stopped and scolded by an old geezer working for the city. "Surely you saw the road closed signs at the entrance," he remonstrated. In fact, the signs were on the road leading up to the trail and didn't convincingly indicate that the trail itself was closed. Luckily this was almost at the south end of the levee trail and he let us turn around and go back the way we came. Oh, and those ramps do flatten high pressure tires... but not instantly. I must have gotten a nick that didn't give way to a full puncture until I was miles from nowhere on another trail the next day... without a pump.

Nicky Olson said...

Omaha Trails just opened it's blog to report area's where the trails have been damaged/flooded. You all have such great information that I wondered if perhaps you'd be willing to share it with them.

Here's the link :

Cupcake88 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cupcake88 said...

@munsoned Some of the RR tracks are offically closed. BNSF closed a week ago and they are diverting RR traffic due to flooding of their transloading dock which is downtown hugging the river in the litte Italy district.

@Scott How far can you go on the trail towards bellevue going towards the river? Also, be safe when hanging out by the levee!! :) They can burst at anytime... even if it dosen't look full they can't hold the pressure. Last year in Norfolk, NE the levee workers drowned while inspecting the levee :(