Clifton flood gates will close to traffic Tuesday morning

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: The Clifton floodgates will be closed Tuesday morning for its biannual testing. The closure will close U.S. Highway 191 for both northbound and southbound traffic from about 8 – 8:30 a.m.

8 a.m. exercise will take about 30 minutes

By Walt Mares

It will be a very good idea to leave for work early tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Sept. 15. There will be a half-hour delay in traffic as the Town of Clifton tests its flood gates along the San Francisco River. 

The test begins at 8 a.m. The highway, U.S. 191, will be closed to southbound and northbound traffic for about 30 minutes. The testing occurs twice a year.

The giant gates, known jokingly as the “Jurassic Gates” are meant to keep floodwater from pouring into South Clifton. That part of town was inundated with floodwater during the Great Flood of 1983. Many homes and businesses were badly damaged or destroyed by floodwaters that were as much as 10 feet deep.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey the river ran at about 90,000 cubic feet per second.

It was the first time in anyone’s memory that South Clifton had been flooded. That was due to huge cottonwood trees that were uprooted upstream and became lodged under the bridge, forming a dam.

The levee was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Several homes and a few businesses were removed from where the levee was to be located.

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: The marquee at the Clifton Train Station advises motorists the flood gates along the San Francisco River will be closing at 8 am., Tuesday, Sept. 15. They will be closed for about a half-hour. The notice has appeared on the marquee for at least the past two weeks.

The structure, which is half-mile long, was completed in 1994 and dedicated by then Gov. Rose Mofford.

The nickname Jurassic Gates refers to the movie Jurassic Park in which dinosaurs are held in a park with giant walls.

The Clifton Public Works Dept., using a frontend loader, will conduct the test during which the gates will be closed and then reopened. The Clifton Police Dept. And Clifton Fire Dept. will participate in the exercise. In the past, the test has taken only about 15 minutes but a half hour is scheduled in the event any glitches might occur.

Walt Mares Photo/Gila Herald: A Town of Clifton Public Works frontend loader heads home after a test involving closing and reopening the giant flood gates along the San Francisco River. The exercise is conducted twice a year to ensure the gates are in proper working order. They are meant to prevent floodwater from pouring into South Clifton as it did in the Great Flood of 1983.
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