Lawmakers tour Mississippi River work near Thebes - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Lawmakers tour Mississippi River work near Thebes

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Two federal Illinois lawmakers got a firsthand look at efforts to clear bedrock that's putting a strain on barge traffic on the Mississippi River. Two federal Illinois lawmakers got a firsthand look at efforts to clear bedrock that's putting a strain on barge traffic on the Mississippi River.
The group traveled by boat to view the pinnacle removal work. The group traveled by boat to view the pinnacle removal work.
The Corps has been doing some blasting to clear rocks. The Corps has been doing some blasting to clear rocks.
The Corps is working to remove rock pinnacles which pose a hazard to navigation. The Corps is working to remove rock pinnacles which pose a hazard to navigation.
Mississippi River near Thebes (Source: Mike Mohundro) Mississippi River near Thebes (Source: Mike Mohundro)
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THEBES, IL (KFVS) -

Two federal Illinois lawmakers got a firsthand look at efforts to clear bedrock that's putting a strain on barge traffic on the Mississippi River.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D) and Congressman Bill Enyart (D) were briefed Monday about the work near Thebes, Illinois by Army Corps Of Engineers and Coast Guard officials.

The Army Corps' efforts include dredging, releasing water from dams upstream, and removing rock pinnacles which pose a hazard to navigation – to maintain barge traffic on the river.

Following their meeting, the group traveled by boat to view the pinnacle removal work.

Sen. Durbin says the river will not close to barge traffic.

This is a national economic issue. The White House has offered help to keep river traffic flowing.

Durbin toured the river by boat with the Army Corps of Engineers. He says the equipment used to remove rock is the best available. He says he's optimistic about progress so far and feels they continue to be ahead of the game.

"The Army Corps of Engineers has arrived and brought some of the best, most modern technological resources to work on this river to make sure that it's navigable," Sen. Durbin said. "The reduction in flow in the river. The water going down, trying to keep this channel open, so we can keep commerce moving up and down the river."

The Army Corps has been able to maintain the 9 foot channel with the work they've been doing 16 hours a day. Barge traffic is moving for about eight hours during the day.

According to NWS Paducah, the river levels at Thebes as of 3:30 p.m. Sunday are at 4.09 feet, the second lowest in history.

The river is projected to drop to 3.4 feet on January 13. Previous low water records are:

• 0.88 feet on 1/15/1909

• 4.50 feet on 7/13/1988

• 4.82 feet on 8/28/2012

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