Some residents of Auburn, Nebraska, are unhappy that Interstate 29, across the bloated Missouri River in Iowa, is closed again due to flooding, sending more drivers through their small town than ever before.
U.S. Highway 75, which passes straight through Auburn is busier and its drivers more impatient, said college student Maggie Kreifels. It’s certainly loud, with cars, motorcycles and 18-wheelers waiting at the downtown stoplight where U.S. 75 and U.S. 136 converge.
“I think most people that are from here realize how bad the traffic has gotten and know to either drive cautiously or avoid Highway 75 altogether,” Kreifels told the Lincoln Journal Star . “I will drive out of my way to avoid 75. It’s gotten absolutely ridiculous.”
The Missouri flooded the area earlier in the spring, forcing I-29 to close. But crews cleared the interstate and it reopened in early May, only to close again later in the month after another round of flooding. And it is not clear when the river level will fall.
“It’s going to be a long summer,” Lottman Nemaha County Sheriff Brent said.
Frequent commuters are opting to drive through residential areas, noting it is faster than waiting forever on a clogged two-lane highway for the lights to change.
“People really are just careless out here right now,” said Candice Bogle, a longtime resident. She said she’s seen semis passing through her neighborhood, hauling trailers down streets not designed to hold them.
Not everyone is unhappy, but business owners welcome the extra passing trade.
Evan Lindsey, the general manager of a Pizza Hut branch, says business is flourishing and he’s encouraging his staff to enjoy meeting new people in the restaurant. He said lunchtime now stretches from before 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
And while his staff is working harder, they’re not complaining. More customers means more tips.
“I’ll take all the traffic I can get,” Lindsey said.