Landslide scare causes road closure

Local News

Muscatine public works crews shut down Fletcher Avenue, citing potentially 'massive' landslide

A street in Muscatine is closed until further notice tonight.

Public works crews warn about a potentially ‘massive’ landslide there.

Crews shut down Fletcher Avenue off of Hershey Avenue this afternoon.

Public works director Brian Stineman says soil erosion on the west side of the roadway could cause a major slide.

He says a few hundred people a day drive on it every day.

“I was concerned if there’s a vehicle passing, wrong place at the wrong time– and just get knocked off the road. Or, if it happened in the middle of the night and there’s a car going down the hill, there’s no lights on this thing so then people wouldn’t see and drive into it,” Stineman says.

With so many variables, including rain in the forecast, he decided to shut down Fletcher Avenue.

He says crews have been monitoring the road for years.

“We have a history of a lot of runoff problems here, some smaller landslides, a lot of trees have fallen down the hill,” Stineman says.

But nothing of this magnitude.

“We just haven’t seen one that’s posed to be this big before,” says Stineman.

And he says this landslide might be the final straw.

“Maybe we just leave it shut and not mess with hauling it all away,” he says.

But some neighbors say that that is not the solution.

“I must admit that when I have gone up and down and though, ‘Oh, I hope this thing doesn’t go now,” says Nancy Panther.

She and her husband, Tim, live across the street from the potential landslide.

They’ve dealt with Fletcher Avenue’s muddy problems for more than 40 years but they don’t want to see it down for good.

“We don’t have a whole lot of options for getting up over the bluff in Muscatine right now,” Tim says.

Nancy says the city needs to be more proactive, like planting during the drier weather to combat the soil erosion.

“At the appropriate time– soon, you can plant, or let’s take a look and see what we can do at the top,” she says.

Stineman says city officials will have to decide the future of Fletcher Avenue but for right now, he’s urging neighbors to stay clear.

“We’d hate to have somebody go up there and take a look at this thing or walk around on it and have it go. That would be bad, to be caught up in this thing, which is why we closed it in the first place,” he says.

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