Water Levels Effect Barge Traffic in the Heartland

Water Levels Effect Barge Traffic in the Heartland
By: Ryan Tate
The Coast Guard closed a section of the Ohio River last week, and leaders do not expect to open it for another three or four days. The section is seven miles long between Olmsted and Mound City. According to Coast Guard officials, the Army Corps of Engineers is dredging that part of the river to hopefully open up a section wide enough to allow traffic to pass through. Right now, limited traffic can go through that area. Only barges with little to no cargo will be able to pass.
According to Coast Guard Commander Denise Matthews, the Ohio River at Cairo is nine feet below normal. Last week, it was ten feet below normal. That is a lot different than earlier this year, when the Ohio River flooded in some spots.
According to Lynn Muench, vice president for the mid-continent region of the American Waterways Operators, businesses are losing between $5,000-$10,000 a day having cargo stopped here in the Heartland. She also says, because products are not making it to their destinations on time, projects might not get finished on time. The coal not making it to power plants means blackouts are possible in some locations. Corn and grain stuck on the Ohio means higher prices could be on the way for consumers as well.
More than 60 boats and 600 barges are stuck on the Ohio in the Heartland as of Monday.