Mississippi River Reopens to Barge Traffic

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Barge traffic is finally open again on the Mississippi River, after an accident forced vessels to park for five days.

According to U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Colin Fogarty, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reopened Lock and Dam 27 in Granite City, Illinois around 3:30 Thursday morning. The Coast Guard monitored the barges to make sure crews were safe in the chronically low-river conditions.

Most of the barges were carrying grain across a point in the Mississippi that is crucial to commerce across the country.

'This lock and dam is one of the most important locks and dams in the United States of America and definitely one of the most important on the Upper Mississippi River,' Lieutenant Fogarty explained. 'Nothing goes north of St. Louis, and nothing goes south of St. Louis without going through this lock and dam.'

Friday, the lock was closed when a barge hit a protection cell, and the cell ruptured sending rock flying over the river`s surface. The cell acts as a bumper to protect the lock from barges as they enter and leave. But, the cell is reinforced at a certain point on the metal cylinder filled with rock. Low river levels forced the barge to hit the cell below that point. Crews repaired the rupture.

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