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Mississippi to reopen Friday after 3-day barge grounding shutdown
Mississippi to reopen Friday after 3-day barge grounding shutdownBy Mike Tighe email@example.com lacrossetribune.com
August 02, 2012 4:40 pm • By Mike Tighe
Commercial traffic on the Upper Mississippi River is expected to reopen about noon Friday after being closed since Tuesday, when a barge went aground
near Brownsville, Minn.
But it could hit another snag downriver, which has endured periodic closures because the drought has sucked it to perilously low levels. The U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers isn’t sure when the river will reopen at Greenville, Miss., because of a major grounding incident there.
The Brownsville blockage, which in turn created a backlog of at least four tows and their barges, occurred about 1 p.m. Tuesday, said Dan Cottrell,
the Army Corps’ regional channel maintenance coordinator.
The David L. Fields towboat was pushing a string of 15 barges about 1,200 feet long when one of the barges went aground in the vicinity of the Wildcat
Landing overlook near Brownsville, about 20 miles south of La Crosse.
Although the barge was freed 24 hours later, commercial traffic has remained closed while a private dredging company works to clear accumulated sand
in the area, Cottrell said.
Meanwhile, the David L. Fields, owned by the Marquette Transportation Co. of Paducah, Ky., remains stranded waiting for the dredging to be completed,
and four other tows are backed up, too, he said.
And that, in turn, is creating delays upriver. “It’s created a backlog,” said Adam Binsfeld, dispatcher of the La Crosse Harbor operations at
However, the overall effect has been minimal, “other than a delay in a couple of barges,” Binsfeld said.
Cottrell blamed the snarl of sand on two factors:
• Shoaling, which he said is a normal accumulation near the buoy line.
• And “humping,” which he said occurs when the wash from the propellers of a towboat trying to free barges creates mounds of sand in the
“We’re dredging out the shoaling and the humps,” Cottrell said.
“This occurs from time to time, and some (groundings) are bigger than others,” he said. “This happens to be one of the worst.”
The grounding was not related to the widespread drought and the river’s seemingly low level, he said. Rather, he cited other conditions, noting that
high water last year created the illusion that the river is deeper than it is and when the high water recedes, it leaves a lot of sediment.
The river level is “not abnormally low in this district,” he said.
Talk of river levels can be confusing, as one oft-quoted measure is in relation to the flood stage, while the other is tied to the channel depth.
Thus, the river stage at La Crosse has been a tad above 5 feet in recent weeks, while the dredged channel is near its 9-foot level.
Even though the Upper Mississippi channel generally has been normal for traffic, the drought has crippled barge traffic in the south, which has had a
trickle-up effect to the La Crosse area. Some barge operators have been lightening their loads so they can navigate successfully through the shallow
areas below Cairo, Ill.
At Greenville, the Bootsie B towboat was pushing 13 empty barges and 15 barges loaded with fertilizer and salt when they ran, said Petty Officer Ryan
Tippets of the U.S. Coast Guard's 8th district external affairs division.
Crews managed to free the beached barges, and there were no reports of injuries or pollution, Tippets said, although there was no word on when full
traffic might resume.
Our family camp at thr WildCat CampGround, and we been doing this for years. We notice the river levels and there has been other timesits been lower.
What we notice is the amount of predators on the rise, around the shores and even in the water, like coyotes, fox, timber wolves, black bears and many
fish(Gar) and so many eagles.
Intersting to see how this spring thaw comes.
edit on 3-1-2013 by chachonee because: grammar