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Swede

ROAD CLOSED WHEN FLOODED

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Heres a letter I sent to "The Zephyr" news paper in Galesburg Illinois.Knox county seat. >

 

ROAD CLOSED WHEN FLOODED

 

I was amazed to discover that there was no barricade on the black top north of London Mills warning drivers that the road was flooded especially after the drowning death of a fourty seven year old woman around this time last year. After calling the Knox County highway engineer, I was told quote, "We have a regulatory sign posted. You will have plenty of opportunity to back up and turn around coming from Knox county. If we put up a sign, some people will just ignore it.  Our liability insurance says the road closed when flooded sign is adequate. That will continue to be Knox County Highway Department Practice."

 

There's a few problems with that logic. First the sign begs for the driver to know that the road is flooded. That may work in the day time. Lets say the driver isn't from around here and is not familiar with the road. Its dark and he doesn't see the water on the black top so in effect he has no way of knowing the road is closed.

 

Second the sign on the north side of the river is approximately two hundred yards past the record flood mark so the driver would already be in the flood water before he reached the sign.

 

Apparently the Knox County Highway Dept. is more concerned about liability then saving lives since a drowning death has already occurred making the signs insufficient.

 

Lets say another death occurs or maybe a whole family parishes in the next flood and the victims family decide to take it to court. Theres a lot of lawyers and legal scholars out there, how would the liability claim hold up in front of a judge and jury?  The cost to the county to settle a law suit or even defend themselves against one would more then offset the cost of putting up a barricade.

 

I know there are drivers out there who drive around barricades but then if that's possible then the barricade wasn't sufficient enough. It wouldn't take that much more effort to make driving around one more difficult. I noticed when the search and rescue was in progress in London Mills last year there was plenty of barricades up. Too late then wasn't it?

 

There are many ways of dieing but sinking in the black of night into the dark flood waters and tumbling over and over waiting for the car to fill with water isn't one of the better ones. Can you imagine the horror that poor lady must have been going through?

 

There has been to date three separate incidents due to drowning in flood waters from Spoon River around London Mills. One at the first bridge above London Mills a few years ago and the one at London Mills last year and one from the same flood just below London Mills last year.

 

The question remains who has the responsibility to safe guard the public to try to keep these unfortunate incident from happening again? Nothing has been done by any one to improve this situation to date so we wait for the next one to happen.

 

Eric Swanson

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This script from an interview from a TV news station from Peoria Illinois>

 

Hello Mr. Swanson,

 

 

 

Here is the script from Gina’s story last night.

 

 

 

Thanks for helping us out producing the story.

 

 

 

Don

 

 

 

Don Shafer

 

News Director/Multi-Media Content Manager

 

 

 

WEEK-TV, WHOI-TV, WAOE-TV, Weather First, CW East Peoria, IL Direct

 

(309) 698-3726 SP Granite Broadcasting Corp.

 

WAOE Owned by Four Season LLC

 

WHOI Owned by Barrington Broadcasting Co.

 

 

 

 

 

]

 

    A little more than a year after flood waters claimed the lives of two people near London Mills some residents are worried about it happening again.

 

    And as News 25's Gina Ford explains.. With recent heavy rains the Spoon River has once again overflowed its banks, and some worry the warning signs aren't good enough.

 

 

 

PKG*******)

 

< It was on this road a year ago that a 47-year-old woman was swept away in her car and died after leaving the Village of London Mills...the same weekend another motorist suffered the same fate.

 

    And with the Spoon River again over flowing its banks, London Mills resident Eric Swanson and others are outraged there aren't better barricades that prevent people from crossing the bridge.   

 

 

 

    (GINA)

 

"This small road block here is on the Fulton County side of London Mills to try to prevent people from driving through the flood water ahead but Eric Swanson says they need something more substantial as he's seen several motorists try and take the risk and drive through anyway."

 

 

 

(ERIC)

 

"Who does have the responsibility to block the road? That's never been clearly decided."

 

 

 

(CAROL)

 

"Well the village does, it may not be one specific person that does it, but everybody knows to put it up."

 

 

 

Carol Neiheisel, a village trustee says it's a town effort to make sure London Mills' bridge in Fulton County- half of which belongs to Knox County- is blocked on their side of the river.

 

 

 

"We've got signs, we've got barricades, we've watched people drive by and break the barricades."

 

 

 

She says some drivers don't heed the warning signs, but with concern from citizens like Swanson she'll recommend her colleagues seek to fortify the road blocks.

 

 

 

"We could completely barricade it so you cannot get through but it would help if Knox County put up signs too."

 

 

 

On the Knox County side of the water this is the only warning sign for motorists...it's posted just before a bend and Sawnson says it's a risky situation for drivers.

 

 

 

"At night you can't see it, your lights shine up off it and it looks like regular black top."

 

 

 

After calling the Knox County highway engineer, I was told quote, "We have a regulatory sign posted. You will have plenty of opportunity to back up and turn around coming from Knox county. If we put up a sign, some people will just ignore it.  Our liability insurance says the road closed when flooded sign is adequate. That will continue to be Knox County Highway Department Practice."

 

 

 

"The road says closed if flooded, but if you didn't know the road was flooded, it's not closed to you until you're in the water."

 

 

 

Although village officials in Fulton County will seek to improve safety measures, it looks like those headed to London Mills from Knox county will have to beware.

 

 

 

In London Mills, I'm Gina Ford.>

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I've heard a different topic talked about on talk radio that applies here. The short of it is that no one has the right to sue the government for negligence. The topic was about border security, but equally applies here. Which goes to show that the only people that will take care of you is yourself and possibly your family(not everyone has a happy family).

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On flood prone roads here we have gates made of welded steel pipe that are chained to bollards when the road is safe and then swung closed and chained when the road is flooded. It would take a military 2.5 ton truck to drive through them and still be able to function afterward.

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Thats what a IDNR game warden I met down there suggested a pipe gate.

 

Im not sure a decision from a county highway engineer could be called the government.

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Thats what a IDNR game warden I met down there suggested a pipe gate.

 

Im not sure a decision from a county highway engineer could be called the government.

 

They're cheap (relatively) and effective, they require little maintenance once up, I think they are a good option. Anybody that chose to break it or drive around it would be making a conscious decision that took the responsibility out of anyone else's hands and took it on their own.

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Out here in Southern California the people have so little experience with flooding that when ever it happens on any street there is almost always a car being dragged down stream. I have to qualify this statement, most Californians have not been caught in a flood so they do not know how to deal with it.  We do have floods but they seem to seek out people with no real common sense, most of Southern Cal, and if there is a film crew nearby... Well let's just say you can lead a So Cal to water but you will have a hell of a time stopping him from trying to drive through it. Especially if he is on his cell phone. Gates would be great idea here, but getting them up in time would be difficult. Out here nobody is really responsible for much of anything so getting a gate locked or unlocked would be a major problem. Good Luck.l

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Flash floods like those Photon are always a problem. Here we live next to a fairly large river that when it floods out of its banks its a slow process that may take days before it reaches its peak. Then the problem is it hasnt rained for a few days and people forget there might still be deep water on the roads. With no warning at night people dont realize theres water on the road.

 

There are those who drive down the road that comes from the north and find the water still over the road and its several miles back around. That is incentive to try to cross because they dont want to back track. The county cant even put up a sign miles back to warn drivers that the road is flooded ahead like they do for construction.

 

I found a web site that makes swinging gates and Im going to push to buy some and get them installed on each side of the flood area.

http://www.hooverfence.com/gatekits/barrier-gates/

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Keep at 'em Swede!  Like you said, at night those "regulatory" signs won't do any good, a person would be likely to be sinking before they could realize what had happened.

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Im actually making progress.  :o  I called all over the place today and come to find out IDOT (Illinois dept of transportation) actually has a provision on closing roads temporarily for snow storms, bridge out and flood waters. So the engineers argument that their liability would go up if they placed a pipe gate to completely close the road during flooding isnt right.

 

I asked "How can doing nothing be better then trying?"

 

I had a long talk with the engineer at Know county highway and Ive convinced him to put one up but he was told by their insurance company that the liability would go up. He said if he or I can find out different he would be in favor of putting one up.  scared011.gif 

 

The river is actually up even more today from rains from two days ago so that really demonstrates our problem. The sun is shining but the road is under water and people dont expect that.

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Guest smallgamehunter

maybe you should suggest to your quarry boss to start a search and rescue team since he saved that woman with the end loader

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