MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - High water levels are forcing officials to close several streets across the Twin Cities metro area this week, starting with Water Street in St. Paul Monday night and Highway 41 between Highway 169 in Shakopee and Chaska Boulevard in Chaska Tuesday morning.
The Minnesota River in the southwest Twin Cities metro is currently in flood stage, leading officials to close Highway 41 as the waterway pushes out of its banks. Water Street, meanwhile sits close to the Mississippi River, which is currently not in flood stage but will likely continue to swell over the next 24 hours after last week's heavy rainfall.
The current forecast has the river cresting at about just over 14 feet on July 1, so until the flood water recedes and we get it cleaned up people can expect it to be closed," said Lisa Hiebert, a spokesperson for the St. Paul Public Works Department.
Authorities insist the closures are simply a precautionary measure, with St. Paul's procedure dictated by the city's Flood Response Plan.
"I think our concern is the added traffic you’ll have, the inconvenience [drivers] will go through trying to reroute, whether it’s work or going shopping or whatever they need to do," said Lt. Tony Kjorstad of the Chaska Police Department.
It's not the first time this year Water Street has been closed due to high water levels, with the road closed due to a heavy snow melt in April and early May as well. Along with the road closure comes a stoppage of traffic along the bike and pedestrian walkway, as well as the Lilydale Public Launch Ramp.
In the meantime, officials are warning people everywhere not to drive through standing water or barricaded areas because vehicles can be swept away in even a few inches of water.
"There’s a reason we say turn around don’t drown, because you never know how deep the water is on top of the road," Fox 9 Chief Meteorologist Ian Leonard said. "You never know what damage has been done underneath the water."