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Mississippi River Open Again

Barge traffic along the Mississippi plays a key role in the U.S. economy.
File photo
Barges are a constant sight on the Mississippi River (KWMU File Photo)

By Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The Mississippi River is once again open to barge traffic.

Two separate stretches near the Jefferson Barracks Bridge had kept the river closed to river commerce almost continuously since Friday.

The Corps of Engineers dredged a deeper path in the river to allow barges through.

Lynn Muench, with the barge group American Waterways Operators, says keeping barges idle was costing the industry, and eventually customers, $1 million a day.

"A lot our exports that rely on just-in-time delivery are going to suffer long-term from people not knowing whether they can count on the Mississippi River being a reliable source of transportation," said Muench.

Barge advocates blame a persistent drought, as well as a judge's order to lower the Missouri River to protect endangered species for the low levels.

But the environmental groups who sued to lower the river say the effects of the court-ordered drop are minimal; they say the drought is the main culprit.