Barge shippers can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now.
The lingering drought gripping much of the nation had threatened to reduce water levels on the Mississippi River to the point that shipping would be effectively shut down.
Even though Corps Spokesperson Mike Peterson thinks there’s reason for optimism, he says they aren’t out of the woods yet.
“Historically, February, we usually do start to see some rise out of the river. But we are dealing with a drought, so we’re always keeping our eye on the worst case scenario,” says Peterson.
Lieutenant Colin Fogarty of the U.S. Coast Guard is optimistic that the river will continue to stay open for business. He says historically the river begins to rise in February, but it’s hard to know if that will be the case this year.
“The United States Coast Guard is confident we can maintain a safe, navigable channel up until late January. Beyond that, it really becomes too hard to predict,” says Fogarty
This weekend, contractors working for the Corps completed a project to deepen the shipping channel on a particularly treacherous stretch of the river south of St. Louis.