Army Corps clears middle Mississippi River for transport

Mar 26, 2013 | 07:00 PM | AMM staff

Tags  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi River, Mike Petersen, AEP River Operations, Marty Hettel, metal transportation

Just in time for the spring ramp-up of barge traffic, the middle Mississippi River is finally wide and deep enough for near-normal seasonal navigation thanks to dredging projects and winter precipitation, according to a major barge operator and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps of Engineers removed 8 million cubic yards of sediment and rock between August and March, twice as much as would be dredged in a year without a drought, said Mike Petersen, spokesman for the agency’s St. Louis District. “As far as draft (the depth allowed for moving vessels), there are no restrictions right now, and barges and tows are loading normal amounts. Traffic is moving. We are through the tough spot.” The only thing left to do was rebuoy the channel--moving buoys farther apart to create a four-lane path in a two-lane channel.

Commodities shipped on the Mississippi River include steel, aluminum, scrap, ferroalloys and metallurgical coal. Since the end of December, when low water levels became “critical,” the Army Corps of Engineers has provided two more feet of water by blasting rock pinnacles at Thebes, Ill., according to Marty Hettel, senior manager of bulk sales at St. Louis-based AEP River Operations. “We’ve (also) had tremendous help from Mother Nature” in the form of snowstorms.....

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