Engineers Confident Of Averting Mississippi River Shipping Shutdown

ST. LOUIS (January 4, 2013)—The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it’s confident that it will be able to keep a crucial stretch of the drought-starved Mississippi River open to barge traffic and avert a shipping shutdown that the industry fears is imminent.

The Corps of Engineers says crews are making "fantastic" progress clearing treacherous bedrock from the channel south of St. Louis near Thebes, Ill., but barge operators are worried that water levels in that section of river may get so low that weight limits on shipments could be further tightened, effectively halting shipping.

Coast Guard Lt. Colin Fogarty said Friday that an eventual shutdown is possible but unlikely, given the corps' progress at Thebes and its water releases from at least two Midwest lakes into the Mississippi.

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