ST. PAUL, Minn. - The images of washed out roadways, craters in streets, and buckled pavement are unforgettable, but the work will be daunting.
"This one is of the charts," said Larry Bohrer with TKDA Engineering and an expert in roadway design. "We all know in the Midwest what the power of wind can do, but water is just as powerful."
Bohrer looked at picture after picture of some of the damage to infrastructure in northeastern Minnesota and says some of the projects will take time and be very costly.
"It's a tragedy for budget purposes," he said. "Nobody anticipates trying to restore this stuff especially in an emergency."
Currently, projects are being prioritized region wide and many roads have re-opened. Still, over 50 miles of roadway need attention and hundreds of bridges need to be looked at. Some of the major projects include roads and bridges that were washed away.
The design of some of the infrastructure is likely not the reason it failed. Instead, as Larry points out, it's usually the interstate roadways that are built sturdier than county roads because of cost and the probability of a major disaster.
"If every drainage facility or roadway was designed for the 1 percent chance of a major storm..it would be extremely expensive," says Bohrer. "It's always good to engineer for the lowest probability of failure as you can, but sometimes it's just not economically possible."
The main concern in Duluth and the surrounding area is clogged drainage systems and damaged to utility lines, work that will likely be done first. The larger projects will take months. On sinkhole in particular already has a roughly estimated price tag of $1 million.
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