Coast Guard halts traffic on low-water stretch of Mississippi

The closure was affecting 97 vessels Monday afternoon and was halting both northbound and southbound traffic, officials said.(Aug 21, 2012) The U.S. Coast Guard said on Monday that 97 vessels were stranded by low water on the Mississippi River near Greenville, Mississippi, after it closed an 11-mile stretch of the drought-parched waterway for dredging and to replace missing navigation buoys.The worst U.S. drought in 56 years has left the river there at its lowest point since 1988, a year when a similarly dire drought also stalled commercial traffic on the major shipping waterway.Further north, dredging operations near St. Louis were halting river traffic for 12 hours at a time as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked to keep a shipping lane wide enough and deep enough for commercial barge tows hauling everything from grain and fertilizer to steel and coal, industry sources said.Shippers have been told for weeks to limit the amount of cargo loaded onto barges by at least 30 percent so that they sit higher on the water, and to limit the number of barges in tows, but numerous vessels have still run aground up and down the river.At least three vessels, all with lighter-loaded cargo, ran aground in recent days between Caruthersville, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, the Coast Guard said.

Source http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/20/us/mississippi-river-traffic/index.html

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