Ferry still running, water rising at Hickman Port

UPDATE: Sunday, Oct. 16,  Mississippi County Port authority Tammi Hutchison says the port is shut down but the ferry is still running. She says the water level is rising in the Mississippi River.

HICKMAN, KY (KFVS) - Barges can't get through one small part of the Mississippi River, and that could cost local businesses a lot of money.

Officials at the Hickman Port Authority say all barge traffic at the harbor will likely grind to a halt by the end of the day Friday, and they don't know when it will start up again.

Friday afternoon, the Port Authority was working to lighten the load on one barge to get it out of the harbor. After that, officials say, no more will be allowed in or out.

The river has dropped to extremely low levels, making it difficult for barges to navigate in and out of the port. According to Port Authority officials, halting barge access to the harbor will have a devastating impact on the region financially. There are several granaries and other businesses on the river that will be affected by this closure.

Heartland News checked with several barge companies along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. All are coping with lower water levels, but no one else is experiencing the same issues as in the Hickman Port.

In Metropolis, United Barge Lines says the river is navigable, but low enough that the company's barges can't be loaded to capacity.

The same goes for Marquette Transport Company in Paducah. Officials there say the barges will carry less cargo to make it easier for them to navigate the river.

Barge traffic isn't the only thing affected by the low river. The Dorena-Hickman Ferry is also running into problems with low water.

The Hickman Port Authority says it doesn't expect the ferry to operate after Sunday. Riders who rely on the ferry to cross the river will want to call the port authority next week to make sure it's still running.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.