Lawmakers from several Mississippi River states are meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers today to address the waterway's critically low levels between St. Louis and Cairo .
The Corps' move to reduce flow of the Missouri River into the Mississippi has river industry officials worried about to potential economic impact, which may bring barge traffic to a standstill.
Barge company American Electric Power stands to be affected by the Corps’ decision. AEP spokesman Martin Hettel says transportation of the regions most vital products can only be moved by barge.
“Is there enough rail or truck capacity to divert these products which, you know, we ship about three and a half million tones in this corridor industry wide,” Hettel says. “So if you were to try to put all this on trucks that’s 250,000 tonnes a day. That 10,000 trucks a day you would need to move the same amount of material.”
Grain, corn, coal, petroleum and chemicals are all typically shipped on the river, as well as many other bulk items throughout the Midwest. The Corps maintains cutting the flow of the Missouri is essential to preserving the rivers reservoirs in case of another drought in 2013.