Flooding Halt Mississippi River Barge Service

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers said that record floods will continue to obstruct barges on the Illinois River and parts of the Mississippi River until at least early next week, Reuters reported.

Ten locks were closed on the Mississippi River and four on the Illinois River late last week. Though the rivers have crested at most locations, the majority remain closed, Reuters said.

“Record flooding prompted the Coast Guard to close the Illinois River to all commercial and recreational traffic on Monday to safeguard levees protecting several towns including Peoria, where the river crested at a record 29.35 feet on Tuesday.”

Navigation on the Mississippi River from central Iowa nearly to St. Louis has stalled as high floodwaters kept locks 16 through 25 closed late last week and over the weekend.

USCG opened the Mississippi to two-way traffic late on Monday near St. Louis and near Vicksburg, Mississippi, but two separate incidents of barges breaking loose in heavy currents over the weekend had forced temporary closures that backed up hundreds of barges.

Roughly 60% of U.S. grain exports, as well as various other commodities, including oil, coal and fertilizer, are shipped via the Mississippi River system.

Another storm in the region may further push back barge shipments of grain from production areas in the Midwest to export facilities at the Gulf of Mexico.

Grain export prices climbed as the shipping disruptions severed the farm-to-port supply pipeline for shippers at the Gulf of Mexico. Spot corn prices at the Gulf hovered near the highest level in a month while soybean prices held at a three-month high as exporters scrambled for needed supplies.


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