EAST ALTON - Motorists who use the Illinois Route 3/Broadway corridor from East Alton to Alton or vice versa should have an easier commute today. The closed flood gate that has been shut for eight days was reopened Tuesday morning.

Closing the flood gates in East Alton is not something taken in light fashion by officials involved.

Madison County Emergency Management Agency officials met with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, law enforcement, fire department ranks, to Madison County Health Department, Wood River Drainage and Levee District, Metro East Sanitary District and the Illinois National Guard to make the decision to shut the gates more than a week ago.

Wood River Levee District Trustee Ron Carnell said work started at 7 this morning to open the gates again, which is a process.

“The seals are pulled out and restocked between lanes and sand is put in the holes,” he said. “Then the hot asphalt truck fills the trenches of the holes.”

When the river levels closed in on the 38-foot mark at the Melvin Price Lock and Dam and with the forecasts about a week ago, Carnell said officials believed they had to close the gate. The river crest of 39.01 feet in Alton was the second highest in history.

The Mississippi River level stood at 38.1 feet at 9 a.m. Tuesday and is projected to fall in rapid fashion.

Carnell said the flood gates in East Alton are rarely closed and he knows it is a huge inconvenience for residents.

“We have about 80,000 vehicles a day run through that area,” he said.

Carnell thanked people for their patience and said officials only concern was the safety of the residents and businesses in the high flood.

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Chris Rhodes also contributed to this story

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