Flooded Highway 59 causes havoc for commuters and farmers

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's not the first time's this Highway 59 has been closed.

Drivers say they've dealt with this closure for the past three years whenever the area has seen days of rain.

Crews are waiting till water levels go down. Meanwhile, county residents who live near flood-prone areas are using pumps to get water off their property.

Roadways turned to streams.

After days of rain, streets soaked while a portion of State Route 59 remains closed because of flooding.

"I come from the Los Banos area, and it adds about an extra 10 /15 minutes when I drive to go to work. I have to drop off my daughter, then come back around, and it's inconvenient," said Amanda Avila.

At least 6 miles of the highway closed off after the Mariposa Creek overflowed.

It's a waiting game as Caltrans crews say they can't reopen the area until it dries out, and is safe enough for drivers.

"There are crews working to clear the water, clear any potential debris from the roadway. It is a matter of waiting for Mariposa Creek to subside water levels," said Thomas Lawrence with Caltrans District 10.

Several other roads in Merced County also closed.

Lone Tree Road near the closure, on top of three other roads throughout the county, are also blocked off because of flooding

"We are working to get those roads reopen, but we won't do so until it's safe. That's our main concern, public safety. We do clear out drains, culverts in anticipation of some of these storms," said Merced County Public Information Officer Mike North.

Scott Roduner, however, is taking matters into his own hand.

He dealt with flooding issues to his family's farm last year, so he's acting quick.

"There are two pumps going here. One's an electric pump to discharge back into the creek," Roduner said.

The Merced County farmer is pumping out the pooled water from his farm to avoid the damage to his crops while preventing another road closure.

"The water that's flowing from in from the creek, into this field, and putting it back into the creek just basically keeping Gurr Road open. If I were to shut these pumps off, it'd probably go over in the next 12 hours. That's how fast it's going," Roduner said.

Thomas Lawrence says they're working to clear the heavily used State Route 59, but they don't have an estimated reopening date just yet.

"But there is potentially more rain coming in so we don't want to say it opens Saturday, rain comes in, and it needs to be closed longer," he said.

Caltrans advises drivers to keep using the detours for now and expect around twenty-minute delays.

The road was last paved and worked on in late 2017, so Caltrans doesn't believe there's any structural damage to the bridge.

Drivers can use Gurr Road as a detour.

Caltrans officials say there is not an estimated time the road will reopen.
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