Railroad Bridge Collapses During Midwest Flooding

It was the main rail link from Iowa to South Dakota
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2024 2:16 PM CDT

A railroad bridge collapsed during flooding in the Midwest that has forced water rescues, led to evacuations, caused at least one death and brought additional misery during a vast and stubborn heat wave. The bridge connecting North Sioux City, South Dakota, with Sioux City, Iowa, collapsed into the Big Sioux River late Sunday, an emergency manager said. Local media images showed a large span of the steel bridge partially underwater as floodwaters rushed over it, the AP reports.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said at a news briefing Monday that the bridge was the main rail link from her state into Iowa. Some of its trusses collapsed, Jason Westcott, an emergency manager in Union County, South Dakota, told KCAU. There were no reports of injuries from the collapse, which occurred around 11pm. The bridge's owner, BNSF Railway, had stopped operating it as a precaution during the flooding, spokesperson Kendall Sloan said. Trains are being rerouted. "We have damaged roads. We have damaged bridges," Noem said. "That will impact us for many, many months to come."

The South Dakota Department of Transportation built a berm Sunday night across Interstate 29 in North Sioux City, temporarily blocking it. Floodwaters have risen over days of heavy rain where South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska meet around Sioux City, as well as along the Iowa-Minnesota border. More rain is forecast, and many streams may not crest until later this week as the floodwaters slowly drain to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.

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The Big Sioux River stabilized Monday morning at around 45 feet, over 7 feet higher than the previous record, Sioux City Fire Marshal Mark Aesoph said. Evacuations have begun for homes at low elevations, and more are expected as waters rise. Thirteen rivers flooded in that part of Iowa, said Eric Tigges of Clay County emergency management. Entire neighborhoods, and at least one whole town, were evacuated, and Spencer imposed a curfew Sunday for a second night after flooding that surpassed a record set in 1953. National Guard troops helped with water rescues and carted needed medications lost in flooding.

(More bridge collapse stories.)

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