Upper Miss Open, Arkansas Closure Remains
Now that floodwaters are finally receding (if fitfully in some places, due to still greater than normal amounts of rainfall), rivers are dealing with massive amounts of silting that, on the Arkansas River at least, may keep some locks closed after river gages are lower.
Upper Mississippi locks are open, but southbound tows are limited to nine barges between St. Paul and Mile 635, and to 12 barges from that point to St. Louis.
After opening briefly to river traffic June 21, St. Louis Harbor closed again due to a weekend of heavy rain, reopening June 26. At press time, the river gages at St. Louis harbor measured 38.57 feet, about a foot and a half below major flood stage of 40 feet. St. Louis Harbor was open with a few restrictions.
Northbound southbound daytime traffic had no restrictions, but nighttime southbound traffic was restricted to six-barge tows with a minimum of 250 hp. per barge. Dock shifting was limited to no more than two barges, with 500 hp. for each barge. The Coast Guard strongly encouraged that southbound transits between Mile 168.5 (the JB Bridge) and Mile 179 occur only during daylight. Daylight-only transits remain in effect through the Thebes, Ill., bridge.
The entire Illinois River is restricted to a tow size of 12 barges southbound.
The Kaskaskia River’s sole lock near its mouth where it joins the Mississippi River below Ste. Genevieve, Mo., will remain closed until July 4 at least.
The Arkansas River, which experienced record floods, is still waiting to be opened, with some locks reporting silting that impedes the operation of their miter gates and possible insufficient pool levels for safe movement. Depending on the silt situation, transits above Van Buren, Ark., may not happen until late July or early August.
In its American Currents newsletter, American Commercial Barge Line reported that it has laid up 14 vessels due to the flood conditions and has 695 barges “destined to areas impacted by the adverse river conditions.”