GRANITE CITY, ILL. — The drought and low water continue to hit inland barge operators hard. As of Thursday, nearly 63 boats and 455 barges were on hold up and down the Mississippi River waiting to pass.
Lock and Dam 27 which was closed earlier this week for emergency repairs to a protection barrier after a barge accident last weekend, reopened early Thursday morning.
Emergency crews had been working to reopen Lock and Dam 27 near Granite City after a barge crashed into a barricade. When that happened, large rocks and debris spilled into the water around the lock and dam.
According to the Coast guard, traffic along the Mississippi has started to move slowly again.
Lt. Colin Fogarty of the Coast Guard told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it would probably take three days for barge traffic to return to normal. The lock itself did not sustain any damage.
This latest setback for inland waterways adds to what has proven to be an extremely challenging season for barge operators. The drought alone is proving costly to the industry.
“It’s certainly been more challenging than your average year,” Stephen Chatry, senior vice president and general manager of Weeks Marine’s dredging division, told WorkBoat recently. “There aren’t too many typical river years. It seems every year, you’ve got a new crisis.”
Capt. Terry Hall of Canal Barge Company Inc., New Orleans, told WorkBoat’s Dale K. DuPont that he has seen the worst the river can offer in back-to-back years. “Overall, you just have to take your time. Most people I know in the industry, we take our time and try to make it right,” he said in mid-August from about 15 miles above Cairo, Ill. Hall was on the 6,000-hp towboat Merrick Jones, which was pushing 10 oversize barges loaded with chemicals and lube oils and three empty bottoms on the side.
In early September, eight dredges were working 24/7 on the 1,278-mile stretch from New Orleans to St. Louis. Five were in harbors and three in channels, which are required to be maintained to a 9’ depth and 300’ width. Dredges cost about $90,000 a day to run. You can read more in Dale Dupont’s report on the drought in the October issue of WorkBoat.
Posted by barge injury lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP