Traffic on Middle Mississippi resumes as river levels drop

Published June 6, 2013

ST. LOUIS – In response to receding water, the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are taking steps to get river traffic moving again after the Mississippi River crested on Tuesday, marking the fourth highest recorded water level since the St. Louis Corps of Engineer gage was installed in 1861.

This afternoon, the Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi, in consultation with the river industry, reopened a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi River to southbound commercial traffic that was closed on Monday. Northbound traffic will resume after sunset tonight. This decision was based on careful planning and consideration for safety and navigability of the river.

Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District has opened Mississippi River Locks 24 in Clarksville and Locks 27 in Granite City, Ill.  Locks 24 and 25 closed May 31 in anticipation of the high water. Locks 27 closed June 2 as flooding neared record levels.

Current levels at Locks 25 in Winfield, Mo., and the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam on the Kaskaskia River are not low enough to reopen at this time. The closures were essential to protect critical components and facilities and be able to restore services as quickly and economically as possible after water levels drop.

Since the closure, the official queue of vessels waiting to pass through the affected section grew to 8 vessels and 63 barges, equivalent to over 3,600 semi trucks with of cargo. However, the actual number is likely much higher, as most members of the river industry were able to predict the closure and moored their vessels at other locations along the river.

While St. Louis Harbor is open to commercial traffic, the area remains closed to recreational boaters due to safety concerns. Additionally, the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers advise all recreational boaters to remain off all major waterways due to large amounts of debris, fast currents, unmarked submerged objects and general dangerous conditions.

“The Coast Guard is present on the Mississippi River to facilitate navigation and ensure the safety of those who work on the river,” said Capt. Byron Black, commander of Sector Upper Mississippi River. “Today marks another point of success in a year of challenging conditions on the Western Rivers. The reopening of the river speaks to the close working relationship between the Coast Guard, the Army Corps, and the river industry.”

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Colin Fogarty
Mike Petersen

Release no. 13-052