Flooding stops commodity transportation for barges, trains

By Marshanna Hester

April 22, 2013 Updated Apr 22, 2013 at 10:48 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Time is money on the Illinois River. But no money is being made now that barge traffic is shut down.

The Peoria Lock and Dam can't reactivate until the water drops to 26 feet.

That means commodities like soybeans, corn and sorghum will be late meeting deep water ships in the Gulf of Mexico.

Three of the five major rail lines are also idle as water covers train tracks.

Once the water does recede, Heart of Illinois Regional Port officials say stability must be restored on the tracks with fresh ballast.

"It's like a road washing out. The railroad is no different," said Steve Jaeger, port executive director. "Basically the ballast gets swept away by flood water so the railroad will bring in specialized ballast cars, put down more crushed rock on tracks, realign tracks and get them going.

Port officials say its hard to predict how the halt in business will impact the economy.