Closing Of Bridges On College Drive and Washington Street Lead To Heavy Traffic Jams In Brainerd
The city of Brainerd was planning for some traffic today as construction began on College Drive, but as storms rolled in the area last night, Mother Nature made things even more difficult, which led to a day full of heavy traffic jams.
During the severe storms that swept through the Brainerd Lakes area on Sunday night, a nearby storm drain located on the east side of the Washington Street Bridge was washed out and led to a sinkhole, forcing traffic going west to be shut down for the day.
“The storm sewer system failed, so it washed out the area adjacent to the bridge, so it left a hole about 14×25 feet,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation District Maintenance Engineer Jamie Hookriede.
With not a lot of time to plan, the Brainerd Police Department and the Minnesota Department of Transportation have been working nonstop to find solutions to the heavy traffic.
“It’s difficult for everybody trying to get around, unexpected like that, but stay patient – we’ll try to help put the best we can and MnDOT will be opening up additional roads, hopefully,” said Brainerd Police Lieutenant Chad Kleffman.
“Traffic engineer has been working with the city of Brainerd and their project on College Drive, and it sounds like tomorrow we should see an improvement with traffic flow and they’ll be one lane in each direction there, but we’re going to be here [Washington Street] a couple more days with reduced lanes,” said Hookriede.
Having one bridge closed for the day was bad enough, but adding a second closure created a so-called “perfect storm” for heavy traffic jams.
“I don’t remember ever seeing traffic as bad as it was today in Brainerd in many, many years,” said Kleffman.
“Getting from East to West through the city has been pretty tough today,” said Hookriede.
While College Drive plans to have one lane of traffic open now to offer motorists another bridge to cross the Mississippi River, by using the West College Drive Bridge, the west lane of the Washington Street Bridge is expected to stay closed until further notice. MnDOT and the Brainerd Police Department are urging drivers to drive with caution, especially in construction zones.