PEORIA,IL--Federal officials have come up with an emergency plan that will prevent the closure of barge traffic along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Low river levels due to the summer drought threaten to disrupt business during the grain export season.
Barge traffic along the Illinois River will not be forced to close due to low water levels along the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois. Federal officials have come up with an emergency plan that will not disrupt seven billion dollars worth of commodities from heading South over the next couple months. It involves removing huge portions of rock that are submerged in critical areas of the Mississippi River.
"This is an amount of blasting which is gonna be sufficient to keep the river channel open in the short term. It doesn't solve all our problems. There are about 9 different sites that need some blasting and subsequently the corps is gonna go out for an additional procurement," said TransPORT Executive Director Steve Jaeger.
Jaeger says work on the critical low water areas is expected to start right away. The summer drought has many agribusiness companies concerned and some have decreased barge loads.
Peoria County Farm Bureau Director Patrick Kirchhofer says while the emergency remediation is going on barge traffic could be adjusted, adding products coming from the South could take longer to reach Central Illinois.
"We're going to need petroleum products, farmers are gonna need fertilizer, winter coming on so we may need salt, rock, sand, concrete products," he said.
The Coast Guard will monitor barge traffic and make adjustments as the emergency action plan is