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Friday, October 21, 2016

Durbin: Demolition of Rock Pinnacles Could Begin Next Week

December 13, 2012

File: Inland pushboat and barges.

File: Inland pushboat and barges.

At the request of Midwest Senators, Army Corps fast tracked process to keep water and goods moving on the Mississippi River.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)  praised the news that a contract has been awarded for the demolition of rock pinnacles in the Mississippi River and the work could begin as early as next week.  In a November 29 meeting with Durbin and five other Midwest Senators, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, agreed to expedite the demolition process in order to help navigation on the Mississippi River.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has wasted no time in awarding a contract to demolish these rock pinnacles and improve navigation on the Mississippi River,” said Durbin.  “In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to brief those directly impacted by the Mississippi’s low water levels on its strategy to prevent serious disruption to traffic along the river.  I plan on convening the meeting as soon as next week with the Army Corps, local officials and stakeholders.”

Yesterday, Durbin met with Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson and Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Robert Flider to discuss efforts to prevent the disruption of navigation on the Mississippi River due to historic low water levels, and steps that are being taken to minimize the impact this would have on Illinois farming communities. The Mississippi River is a critical transportation artery for essential commodities, such as corn, grain and oilseeds, coal, petroleum and other products.

Last week, Durbin announced that he intends to convene a meeting of stakeholders including Senators from states bordering the Mississippi River, state and local officials and representatives from industries such as agriculture and shipping for a briefing from the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss navigation on the Mississippi River through means other than releasing additional water from the Missouri River.

In a letter responding to Durbin’s request for information in the impact that releasing water from the Missouri River would have on both the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, the Army Corps stated that the combination of more favorable rain forecasts, “rock pinnacle removal, dredging, Upper Mississippi River releases, and the limited Missouri River flows currently authorized are expected to be sufficient to sustain navigation on the Middle Mississippi River”.

Last week, Durbin convened a meeting between the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, representatives from U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)’s office and four other Senators to urge the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the job loss and negative impact on the region’s economy that could be caused by historic low water levels on the Mississippi River.  The Corps announced in the meeting that they would expedite the demolition of rock pinnacles that will help keep water and goods moving on the Mississippi River.  Additional Senators attending the meeting included: U.S. Senator Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

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