07 June 2013 00:01 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS)--A portion of the Mississippi river near St. Louis, Missouri, that was closed by floodwaters earlier in the week is reopening to traffic, officials with the US Coast Guard (USCG) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced on Thursday.
The two agencies said southbound traffic has already resumed and northbound traffic will restart after sunset Thursday evening.
The USACE has additionally opened river lock 24 in Clarksville, Missouri, and lock 27 in Granite City, Illinois. The remaining river locks have not been determined to be safe to open yet and will not be until the water levels decrease further.
“This afternoon, the Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi, in consultation with the river industry, reopened a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi river to southbound commercial traffic that was closed on Monday,” said Colin Fogarty, USACE. “This decision was based on careful planning and consideration for safety and navigability of the river.”
Officials said that since the closure the number of vessels waiting to pass has grown to an estimated number of eight ships and 63 barges, but that the actual number is likely higher as some in the industry have moored their vessels at other locations along the Mississippi.
According to the National Weather Service, the river has crested in the St. Louis area, but further south in Missouri the river is not expected to crest until at least Friday. Rain is also predicted through next week, which could cause further problems for those who operate on the vital waterway.
Coast Guard officials said they are trying to get traffic running smoothly, but it may take some time until the water levels dip low enough to permit normal navigation.
“The Coast Guard is present on the Mississippi river to facilitate navigation and ensure the safety of those who work on the river,” said Capt. Byron Black, USCG commander.
“Today marks another point of success in a year of challenging conditions on the Western rivers. The reopening of the river speaks to the close working relationship between the Coast Guard, the Army Corps, and the river industry.”
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