Traffic on the mid-Mississippi River was picking up this week from Davenport, Iowa
, southward as ice melt improved navigation and locks were open to pass barges, river officials said Tuesday. “There are vessels in pool 14 near Le Claire, Iowa, through to St. Louis,” said Ron Fournier
, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman for the Rock Island District.
About a half-dozen tows were traveling from Le Claire, Iowa, at lock and dam 14 just north of Davenport, to Muscatine, Iowa. But the the bulk of the traffic, about 70 tows, was moving from Muscatine (river mile marker 457) southward to St. Louis (river mile marker 180), Fournier said. Ice was still keeping barges from moving north of Le Claire, river officials said.
Grain shippers said boats were trying to get to Clinton, Iowa, but were fighting ice. Clinton is located near lock and dam 13, about 30 miles north of Le Claire. Between lock and dam 11 and 12, a 26-mile stretch running from Dubuque to Bellevue, Iowa, about 10 inches of ice was reported as of Tuesday afternoon.
In the St. Paul district, which runs from Guttenberg, Iowa, north to Minneapolis, colder temperatures kept ice from melting. “It will be a good week and a half before the river opens,” said Dennis Erickson
, spokesman for St. Paul. “Last year this time, the river was open,” he said. Before barges make it to the Twin Cities they need to be able to navigate through Lake Pepin, about 80 miles south of Minneapolis, Erickson said. “Lake Pepin still has 17 to 19 inches of solid blue ice (hard ice). Generally, nobody tries to push through until the lake has 6 inches of blue ice or less,” he said. — (Reuters)