Illinois officials to analyze fairgrounds flooding, damage

- Illinois transportation officials said they will study ways to ease the kind of flooding that inundated the start of this year's Illinois State Fair.

Heavy rains, as much as nearly 5.6 inches on the first day of the fair, swamped campgrounds and forced fair officials to cancel some events on Aug. 12, The State Journal-Register reported.

Illinois Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Rebecca Clark said the Illinois Department of Transportation will analyze how to improve flood control on the 360-acre fairgrounds in Springfield.

The department says roof leaks and foundation problems in some older fair buildings contributed to the flooding's severity. Clark says agriculture department staff have yet to determine the extent of damage to aging roofs and building foundations. A study estimated earlier that $180 million is needed to upgrade aging barns, roads and sewage systems.

"We're still cleaning up after the fair and taking down tents," Clark said. "It can take awhile."

The 10-day fair ended Sunday. Water estimated at up to 5 feet deep flooded campers, trailers and other vehicles at the beginning of the fair. Emergency crews rescued some stranded campers with boats and other equipment.

Springfield Metro Sanitary District executive director Gregg Humphrey said the fairgrounds drains into a branch of Spring Creek on the north end of Springfield.

The city's storm-water capacity was significantly increased in 2012, when a $125 million expansion of the Spring Creek Wastewater Treatment plant was finished. Humphrey said drainage will be further helped when the Sugar Creek plant expansion is completed next year.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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