ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. -- One of the main highways that connects Florida to the rest of the country is in danger of being closed due to flooding caused by Hurricane Irma.
The Santa Fe River in north central Florida that runs under Interstate 75 has rapidly risen within the past two days, according to Florida transportation officials. Officials say the water will likely rise further in the coming days.
The bridge that crosses the river is just north of Gainesville, the home to the University of Florida. If the highway is closed it would require major detours for those trying to return to the state after evacuating due to Irma.
Tennessee is scheduled to play UF this weekend in Gainesville meaning it could cause problems for those trying to attend the game.
Hydrologists from the United States Geological Survey will be conducting an on-site assessment of river conditions Thursday morning, and FDOT bridge inspectors are monitoring this structure 24 hours a day to ensure driver safety.
If the Santa Fe River rises to an unsafe level, it will require the full closure of I-75 south of I-10 and north of U.S. 441 in Alachua. Travelers should be prepared for significant delays from Thursday evening through Saturday.
This unprecedented river flooding will also cause closures and extensive rerouting of traffic on U.S. 27, U.S. 41, S.R. 47 and possibly U.S. 121. These routes would not be considered passable.
In the event of road flooding on I-75 at the Santa Fe River, FDOT will reroute traffic to U.S. 19, U.S. 301 and I-95.
Any Floridian planning on traveling to Central or Southern Florida should consider traveling southbound on I-95.