Concern about the Mississippi River is growing as ice is further reducing water levels. Some now predict barge traffic could come to a halt in the next two weeks. The river level is projected to drop another three-feet at the river gauge in Thebes, Illinois on January 7th – which equates to a ten-foot deep channel or nine-foot operating draft on barges. As such – the Army Corps of Engineers expects new limitations on river traffic will go into place. With no relief in sight – it’s predicted the river gauge at Thebes will indicate an eight-foot depth come January 23rd. The Coast Guard has indicated traffic will remain open – but the Waterways Council and the American Waterways Operators have suggested that further limitations on barges would result in a de facto closure as commercial traffic grinds to a halt.
National Corn Growers Association Chairman Garry Niemeyer says the drought is certainly at the core of the current issues on the Mississippi River – but adds that the situation also highlights the need for infrastructure improvements. He notes NCGA has been pushing for lock and dam upgrades since 1993 – but the federal government has failed to respond. According to Niemeyer – we will lose valuable markets if we continue to ignore our infrastructure.
Source: NAFB News Service