Skip to main content

Blocked Mississippi prepares to reopen to barge traffic

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

It's possible that the Mississippi River could reopen to commercial river traffic by this weekend following one of the worst barge traffic stoppages in recent memory.

The Star Tribune reports that a 52-member crew from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working to clear the river of silt, sediment and soil, which has been blocked to commercial traffic at the height of the river shipping season. The build-up was caused by high water and spring flooding.

ABC6 in Austin reports that in Winona and Wabasha, 17 tow boats and more than 150 barges remain stranded along the Upper Mississippi.

"We have people who have worked in the Corps since the late 1980's and they've never seen it where they've had so much sedimentation brought in that it shuts down large stretches of river like it did this time," George Stringham from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the station.

The station said the flow of river traffic in those two areas could resume by Aug. 8. Corps of Engineers crews are also dredging near Red Wing and in northern Iowa and west-central Wisconsin.

The blockage in the critical shipping channel has taken an economic toll upriver in St. Paul where cargo transport has been stalled, according to the Star Tribune story.

“We have something like $50 million in commodities that are waiting to go,” said Lee Nelson, president of Upper River Services, which runs towboats in and out of St. Paul’s harbor.

Barges are one of the chief ways that cement and road salt are transported from the South. A shortage of cement could reverberate through the construction industry, and a reduced supply of road salt, already depleted from a last year's relentless winter, could hit many state and local agencies.

Meanwhile, as the fall harvest approaches, shippers need access to the river to transport tons of grain. An estimated 60 percent of all U.S. grain exports are shipped on the Mississippi through New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 4.04.40 PM

Ramen bar announced for upcoming Eat Street Crossing food hall

The restaurant roster is filling up at Eat Street Crossing.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Man dies after being shot during argument in Minneapolis

It's the 70th homicide in Minneapolis this year.

NearNorthEncampment

Minneapolis police, city employees clear out Near North encampment

This comes as colder weather moves through the state.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 4.32.46 PM

New T.J. Maxx to open in the Twin Cities this month

Opening day will kick off with extended hours.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 3.04.24 PM

Former Hennepin County commissioner arrested for DWI

The 61-year-old was being held in Hennepin County Jail as of Thursday morning.

Evie Carshare

Electric carshare network showing growth in Twin Cities

Over 25,000 trips have been logged in a six-month span.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 1.11.01 PM

Popular Apple Valley ice arena could be replaced

A concept plan to transform the ice arena is being considered.

21a171abc8c6a3619739a786eed516a563206c38bec4a972944e80fa213b9ab6

Low river levels bring cancellations for St. Paul-New Orleans Viking cruises

The low water also impacted some barge traffic making its way down the river.

10.6 Tempest Weather Thumbnail

Drought tightens grip as Twin Cities reaches 'extreme' level

By this time last year, drought was fading fast in Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-10-06 at 11.23.49 AM

Woman missing since car crash has been found

The 49-year-old is believed to have been driving when the crash happened.

Related