Mississippi River barge traffic near Burlington, Iowa
, remained backed up on Thursday after lock 18 in Gulfport, Illinois, reopened Wednesday afternoon after a day-long shutdown, river officials said. Lock 18 was closed Tuesday morning when a breakaway barge caused two loaded barges to sink near the lock and left six other barges adrift at the dam.
"We've got two barges still floating in the dam and two sunk, with the salvage unit on the way to clear it out. But we've been up and running since noon yesterday," said Frank Robbins, lock master at Gulfport, which is about 60 miles south of Davenport, Iowa.
But river traffic was still feeling the effects of the shutdown on Thursday morning, as 5 northbound barge tows and 9 southbound tows were backed up outside lock 18. Delays were reaching up to 20 hours.
River officials said high water levels contributed to the accident, and the river remained above flood stage in many areas from St. Louis, Missouri, north to Davenport.
The river was 1.5 feet (45.72 cm) above flood stage at St. Louis on Thursday and was forecast to rise an additional 5.3 feet (1.6 meters) over the next three days. At Burlington, water levels were expected to hold about 0.5 (15.24 cm) feet above flood stage.
Weather forecasts called for rain over the next week from St. Louis to Davenport with scattered showers through next week, according to Weather Services Corp. meteorologist Mike Palmerino. - (Reuters)