After weeks of rain, water levels this weekend rose too high for barge traffic on a segment of the Mississippi River in Missouri, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which closed several locks as a result.
Farmers and other shippers rely on the country's 12,000-mile inland waterway system to transport grain, fertilizer, and other goods to and from U.S. ports.
As of Monday afternoon, the lock closures have idled 13 barges—five going downstream, eight headed upstream—until Mississippi River water levels fall below 20.8 feet at the Louisiana Rail Bridge in Louisiana, Missouri.
That’s the maximum highwater mark for barge traffic at that segment of the Mississippi—if the river is any higher than that, barges cannot pass under the bridge, which was first built in 1873.
(Click here to see a photo of the bridge.)
On the Mississippi, the barges are expected to be delayed for several days, according to Sue Casseau, a command information specialist in the Army Corps’ St. Louis District. On Monday, the Mississippi reached a level of 22.4 feet, with more rain in the forecast.
It has been a very wet spring, with May proving to be the wettest month in U.S. history since recordkeeping began in 1895. June was more of the same in many states; Illinois broke a monthly rainfall record that had stood since 1902.