Two river navigation trade associations say the Army Corps of Engineers will blow up rock outcrops on the Mississippi River next week. The rock pinnacles in Thebes, Ill., could block river traffic after Christmas if water levels continue to fall. The rock removal is a half-victory for barge companies, who also want the Corps to release water from Missouri River reservoirs.
American Waterways Operators spokesperson Ann McColloch says the rock blasting project is welcome news, but adds the work will take an extended period of time.
“It’s not a matter of days, but likely a matter of weeks," she says. "Every day that there are not those flows coming in from the Missouri River, every day that those flows are reduced, the Mississippi River water levels will continue to drop.”
An Army Corps spokesperson acknowledged the Corps awarded the contract, but could not elaborate on work dates. The Corps originally projected work to begin in January, but they sped up their contracting process.