Officials made the decision to shut down the Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge on Tuesday, effective immediately, after firefighters responded overnight to a person trapped in a vehicle.
Madison County Emergency Management Agency Logistics Coordinator Tony Falconio said officials made the decision following a water rescue Monday night by Madison Fire Department.
“The received a call for person trapped inside a vehicle,” Falconio said.
Madison Fire Chief Jeffery Bridick sent a letter to Madison County EMA requesting assistance in providing security at barricades set up by City of Madison just west of then business district on W. Chain of Rocks Road.
“The barricades will prevent vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians from entering the island and the levee system,” Bridick said.
Bridick asked for assistance from the Illinois National Guard in staffing the barricades. Local law enforcement and the Madison County Sheriff’s Department
Only authorized personnel will be allowed to cross the bridge to Chouteau Island.
At 5,500 acres, Chouteau Island is one of the largest Mississippi River islands in the region, running from just north of the Merchants Bridge to parallel with the Lewis and Clark State Memorial Park in Hartford. Following the 1993 floods, 40 homeowners left the island.
Chouteau started out as three separate islands — Gaberet, Mosenthein and Chouteau — but became one when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut the Chain of Rocks Canal in the 1950s, isolating the land from the rest of Illinois.
Falconio said there are curious people who want to see the water levels, however they don’t realize how dangerous it can be.
“We are reminding people to stay away from the river and off the levees,” he said.
He said it’s not just concern for the integrity or the levee, but for the safety of individuals.
“All it takes is one misstep to fall into the water,” he said.
Madison County is enforcing a “no trespassing” rule on its 44 miles of levees within Wood River Drainage and Levee District and Metro East Sanitary District.
Local law enforcement, Madison County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois National Guard will be patrolling and monitoring the levee system.