NEW YORK Ice blockages
have delayed shipments on the upper Mississippi River, and the
northern stretches of the waterway are unlikely to be navigable
before the middle of next week, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers told AMM.
Winter weather has lasted much
longer than is typical, with a stretch of the Mississippi River
in southern Minnesota, at Lake Pepin, seeing ice as thick as 26
inches as recently as March 27, according to the Army Corps of
"Right now were starting
to get some traffic thats coming within our very southern
locks in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota, (but) Mother
Nature has a pretty good stranglehold on (the river) this
year," a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers told
AMM. Commerce on the river cannot yet begin, he
Companies that ship via the
river have suffered delays lasting at least several weeks. The
holdups have primarily affected the northern Midwest and Great
Plains regions, sources said.
"This winter of 12, my
barges are still stuck in the river system in Illinois and are
unlikely to get unloaded at destination until the middle or
second half of April. ... Were a month behind where we
were last year," a source at a southern rebar mill said.
"We usually get shipments for
early April," according to a Minnesota rebar distributor, who
has been waiting to receive product. "Were not going to
be able to get anything (until) the barges come through."
However, companies in the Great
Plains and Minnesota that ship product by rail or purchase
locally told AMM that they hadnt been affected
by Mississippi ice floes.
The upper Mississippi usually
opens up to shipping in mid-March, and there have been fewer
than 10 occasions when it remained closed past March 31.
However, the Army Corps of Engineers spokesman predicted that
the waterway would begin to open up next week.
"Assuming the ice melts quickly
and theres enough navigation interest to push through, I
would expect (the middle of) next week, hopefully," he said.
"Theres a lot variables, and its up to the
navigation industry to break the ice."