Mississippi River shippers turn to rail, trucks

Nov 27, 2012 | 04:34 PM | Corinna Petry

Tags  Mississippi River, Army Corps of Engineers, Sue Casseau, Debra Colbert, navigation, ISRI, Cap Grossman, Grossman Iron & Steel Marty Hettel

CHICAGO — Scrapyards, commodity shippers and terminals along the Mississippi River are preparing to move material by rail and truck instead of via barge, despite the higher cost, as low water levels are threatening to close the river to commercial navigation in less than two weeks.

Shippers fear that river transportation will slow or stop completely because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has maintained its annual practice of scaling back water flow from the Gavins Point Dam on the upper Missouri River above Sioux City, S.D.

"The Corps did reduce seasonal flow," Sue Casseau, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers’ St. Louis district, confirmed. "We won’t feel the effects of that (at St. Louis) until around the first of December."

Elected officials—including members of Congress and the governors of Illinois and Missouri—have written to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the U.S. Army’s Civil Works office, who also has been lobbied by affected industries, including steel (amm.com, Nov. 16), but Casseau said the Army Corps of Engineers has not been instructed to amend its operating plan.....

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