Interstate 29 closures cause competition for Missouri, Nebraska fireworks stands

Saturday, June 25, 2011 | 5:51 p.m. CDT; updated 8:59 p.m. CDT, Saturday, June 25, 2011

LINCOLN, Neb. — Business may be booming even louder at some Nebraska fireworks stands this Fourth of July because of road and bridge closures that are blocking many of the ways to Missouri fireworks suppliers.

Many Nebraskans make early summer trips to Rock Port, Mo., each year for low-priced fireworks and some items that are forbidden in their counties or state.

But the Missouri River flooding has made the trip an adventure in detours. Interstate 29 is shut down in the area, and every bridge across the river is closed from St. Joseph, Mo., to Omaha.

Pat Egan, president of Crazy Cracker Fireworks, which supplies fireworks to about 100 stands in Nebraska and South Dakota, told the Lincoln Journal Star it's unfortunate that flooding will keep some people from going to Rock Port. He said he has friends there in the fireworks business, and they're having a tough time.

Egan also said he's having a tough time getting his own supplies.

"Getting our fireworks the last week or so has been difficult because of all of the water," he said. "Some of our things have been routed through Des Moines (Iowa) to get to Lincoln."

Egan said his outlets "can sell everything Missouri has to offer ... except stick (bottle) rockets."

Brice Ball, a salesman with Liberty Fireworks at the Rock Port interchange on I-29, said business has been slow and he doesn't expect it to perk up before the holiday.

"Sales will be drastically less," Ball said.

But he said some of his regular customers are making the effort.

"People that want to come down, they are coming down," Ball said. "We're not going to get that through-interstate traffic because the interstate is closed, obviously."

The flooding also hurts restaurants, truck stops and other businesses at the I-29 interchange at Rock Port, he said.

"Any business at the Rock Port exit is going to be affected — not just fireworks," Ball said.

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Ellis Smith June 26, 2011 | 7:16 a.m.

When driving from Columbia, Missouri to Lincoln, Nebraska the fastest and shortest way is to drive to Kansas City and take I-29 north to Iowa Route 2, then cross into Nebraska.

I-29 in the vicinity of Hamburg, Iowa is surface-wise one of the worst interstate highways I've seen. It appears the problem is the base on which the concrete was laid. On both sides of the state line the highway is located on an ancient flood plain, but builders of the Missouri portion may have come up with a better base.

(Report Comment)
frank christian June 26, 2011 | 11:37 a.m.

Ellis - Were you aware that US 36 is now 4-lane at least Macon to St. Joe? Of course US 63 is also much improved here to Macon. Great new pavement all the way.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 26, 2011 | 3:13 p.m.

Frank Christian:

You name a route and I've used it at one time or another, including the one you suggest. I much prefer I-70 west, I-29 north, IA 2, NE 2; it's faster. Another highway in Missouri and Iowa that's been measurably improved but is only in small part interstate (I-380) is "Avenue of the Saints": US 61 in Missouri, IA 27/US 218 and I-380 in Iowa. You can go from Columbia to Iowa City, Cedar Rapids or Waterloo like a bat out of hell. Used to be a tedious drive. :)

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