Barge tows traveling on the upper Mississippi River faced lengthy delays on Wednesday near Hannibal, Mo., after traffic was stopped for two days to dredge several spots in the river, river officials said. The river was closed in several areas between Hannibal and Quincy, Ill., on Monday when several barges reported shallow water conditions. The Corps of Engineers used
a mechanical crane to dredge the shallow areas and carve a new channel in the river to allow barges to safely travel.
"There were about three locations down there that had run out of water, but things have gotten cleaned up since this morning. Traffic is moving again," said Bill Gretten of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
, Rock Island district.
On Wednesday afternoon, barges at lock 22 near Hannibal faced a waiting time of over 45 hours Wednesday afternoon, and there was a waiting of more than 34 hours at lock 21.
"It's not unexpected. We went from a big flood to low water in pretty short order and sediment moved in and moved some sand bars around," Gretten said.
The back-up at lock 22 in Hannibal included seven barge tows headed upstream and seven headed downstream Wednesday afternoon. Lock 21 had 6 tows headed downstream and seven heading upstream. The Corps of Engineers was hopeful that the waiting time would be alleviated within 1 to 2 days.
River levels dropped sharply in recent days, causing the low water problem. By Wednesday, water levels were dropping at a slower rate, and Gretten said any additional problems would surface south of Hannibal as the quick water recession moved southward.
But River officials said the St. Louis area was not in danger of any severe shallow water situations.
"We dropped from 20 feet to 11 feet in the last week, but it's got to be all the way to zero before we have problems. We have plenty of water right now," said Charles Camillo of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis district. - (Reuters)