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Mississippi River reopening to traffic after flood

Keywords: Tags  Mississippi River, flooding, navigation, locks, dams, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Corinna Petry

CHICAGO — The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have begun taking steps to get Mississippi River traffic moving again as floodwaters began to recede.

The Coast Guard’s Upper Mississippi River sector, after consulting with vessel operators and shippers, reopened a five-mile stretch of the river to southbound commercial traffic between mile markers 179 and 184. That lane was closed June 3 after a "drift" of trees made navigation dangerous to vessel operations (, June 5). Northbound traffic resumed the same day.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ St. Louis District reopened Lock 24 at Clarksville, Mo., and the Chain of Rocks Lock and Dam 27 at Granite City, Ill. Locks 24 and 25 were closed May 31 in anticipation of the high water, and Lock 27 was closed June 2 as flooding neared record levels.

Water levels at Lock 25 in Winfield, Mo., and the Kaskaskia River Lock and Dam are not low enough yet to reopen.

The Army Corps of Engineers said the closures were essential to protect critical components and facilities and enable agencies to restore services quickly and economically after water levels drop.

Since the closures, the official queue waiting to pass through the affected section had grown to eight tug- or towboats moving 63 barges, but the actual number likely was much higher, the Army Corps of Engineers said, as most shippers and barge lines moored their vessels elsewhere along the river in anticipation of the flooding.

The reopenings mark "another point of success in a year of challenging conditions," said Coast Guard Capt. Byron Black, commander of the Upper Mississippi sector.

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