CASEYVILLE, Ill. – There’s been flood prevention action taken in Southern Illinois following a FOX 2 series of investigations.
It involves an abandoned railroad bridge over Little Canteen Creek in Caseyville. City Attorney Doug Stewart called it a bottleneck.
“All of that water drains into this small little canal that is right here,” he said.
The bridge clogged with debris in July 2022, leading to the flooding of an entire Caseyville neighborhood and the evacuation of a nursing home.
The railroads did not respond to FOX 2 or the Village of Caseyville at the time. Viewer Scott Nauert reached out to the president of CSX.
“I saw your story on air, and I forwarded the link to him on email, and he sent me a reply right back and says, we’re going to get right on it,” Nauert said.
“It happened to be a professional contact of mine and happened to be the president of the company, and he’s doing a lot of good things, not only here but all over the CSX system.”
Stewart added, “We do appreciate not only your involvement but their willingness to come and help us solve that in terms of long term.”
Stewart told us the railroad said it could not remove the trellis in case it needed to return to service, but it did act.
“(CSX) cleaned out the debris underneath it, which is an ongoing maintenance problem and that will continue to be a problem, but they’ve also fortified the levy on the back side of it, right along the trestle itself, to prevent any catastrophic failures tied to that.”
Stewart said the railroad agreed to stay on top of cleaning out any debris that piled up. He added that it’s just the beginning of what’s needed.
“We have 10,000 acres that funnel down into this point and what we’re going to have to do is direct that water somewhere,” he said. “Right now, that water goes to some of the poorest communities in the area, and we have to alleviate that pressure from them, so we are going to have to steer that water away.”
Engineers were on site as we spoke, part of a watershed study to determine where else floodwaters can be directed.
The railroad bridge location is not the only problem spot. The Caseyville creek becomes Harding Ditch, a channel that former East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III pointed out this past April.
“The ditch needs to be fixed and needs to be fixed right now,” Eastern said at the time.
Stewart said fixing the Caseyville trestle issue is just the first in a long line of problems along the canal.
“I appreciate you guys. You did help pull the railroad into the conversation and since we’ve had direct engagement with them, they’ve been very cooperative,” he said. “They want to help and solve the problem.”
Answers may not come for more than a year, but the solutions could bring relief for many communities.