7:08 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Army Corps Tamps Down Barge Worries on Mississippi

Credit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library

The Army Corps of Engineers says its efforts to keep a crucial stretch of the Mississippi River open to barge traffic should help avert a shipping shutdown that river industry officials fear is imminent.

The corps said in recent weeks crews have made "fantastic" progress clearing bedrock from a channel near Thebes, Illinois. Shipping groups warned this week the waterway could drop to a point  in which barge weight restrictions would have to be further tightened, effectively halting shipping.  Officials with the river industry said if drafts are restricted to 8 feet or lower, many operators will stop shipping.  National Weather Service hydrologists, as of Friday, forecast that the river at Thebes could drop to the 3-feet mark by next Thursday and continue falling to 1 foot by the end of this month.