Dredging Underway to Reopen Section of Lower Mississippi River

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The U.S. Coast Guard has closed a section of the Lower Mississippi River for dredging.

The river is closed near Stack Island, near Lake Providence, Louisiana, about 200 miles north of New Orleans. The area has been a largely closed since late last week due to low water levels, leaving around 100 tow boats and more than 1,500 barges unable to pass, Reuters reported Tuesday citing shipping sources.

The Coast Guard on Tuesday said a barge had ran aground there, resulting in a waterway restriction from mile marker 478 to 492.

The Coast Guard, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said on Twitter Thursday that dredging continues with the goal of reopening the waterway Friday with restrictions.

Low water on the Mississippi River has brought some southern sections of the Mississippi River to a standstill, halting critical shipments of grain, fertilizer and other commodities just as peak harvesting is ramping up. In the past week, Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River has reported eight groundings due to low water levels.

Ingram Barge Company, one of the country’s largest barge shippers, said Thursday it was “providing formal notice of a force majeure event” as low water disrupted its operations.

“Mississippi River remains closed near Memphis. USCG is actively engaged with @USACEHQ & river industry partners for survey operations to determine earliest & safest reopening. Goal is to ensure navigational safety & facilitate flow of commerce,” the U.S. Coast Guard’s 8th District said in a Twitter update today.

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