Army Corps discusses Mississippi River level worries (AP / Southern Illinoisian)

January 5, 2013 – Efforts taken to keep a crucial stretch of the drought-starved Mississippi River open to barge traffic should be sufficient to avert a shipping shutdown that the industry fears is imminent, Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard officials said Friday. The corps said crews in recent weeks have made “fantastic” progress clearing treacherous rock from a channel about 150 miles south of St. Louis near Thebes — the portion of the river that has grown especially worrisome to barge operators moving cargo to northern states and south to the Gulf of Mexico. Shipping groups warned this week that the waterway there could drop to a point — 3 feet on the river gauge — in which barge weight restrictions would have to be further tightened, effectively halting shipping.

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