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Morning headlines: Monday, January 30, 2012

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breached the levee at Birds Point as part of the activation of the floodway May 2, 2011.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers breached the levee at Birds Point as part of the activation of the floodway May 2, 2011.

Army Corps inspecting Birds Point Levee daily

Inspectors with the Army Corps of Engineers are performing daily inspections of the area where the Birds Point levee was intentionally breached in May. Maj. Jon Korneliussen told the Sikeston Standard Democrat that daily patrols are checking the middle and upper crevasses created by the implosion that happened at the height of spring flooding.

The intentional breach successfully lowered the level of the flooding Mississippi River and helped save nearby Cairo, Ill., but flooded 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland.

The river is rising again, and the Corps says 2- to-4- feet of water will likely get into the center crevasse, though major problems are not predicted. Korneliussen says a maintenance crew is repairing access to roads at both the center and upper crevasses.

Santorum to hold event in St. Charles today

Out of the Florida hunt, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum plans a stop today in Missouri. The former Pennsylvania senator is due to hold a 2:30 p.m event at St. Charles Community College in Cottleville.

According to a campaign news release, Santorum will make a major address focusing on jobs, the economy and American competitiveness.

Santorum has all but conceded Florida, where Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are competing hard for a win Tuesday. Santorum has been off the campaign trail tending to family matters.

After a speech in Cottleville, Santorum heads to an evening event in southwestern Minnesota. 

Missouri's Feb. 7 primary will not count toward the delegate race for the Republican presidential nomination. Missouri's delegates will be awarded later through caucuses.

Stretch of I-270 to undergo changes

The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to widen a portion of I-270 between I-44 and Manchester Road. The stretch is notorious for its daily backups.

Starting this spring, work will begin to add a lane to northbound 270 between 44 and Manchester and a lane to southbound 270 between 44 and Dougherty Ferry. However, MoDOT will have to reduce the size of all of the lanes to 11 feet.

"For most projects, we hope to widen things as optimally as possible," said project manager Tom Evers. "The best thing to do would be to widen out to 12-foot lanes, but in order to do that we would have to replace or widen several bridges which would escalate the project cost tremendously."

MoDOT estimates the cost of the project at just under $12 million.

The agency will offer details of the project to the public later today during an open house from 4 p.m to 7 p.m at the Lodge Des Peres.