Closure of Mississippi River locks blocks barge business

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- The Army Corps of Engineers has closed Lock and Dam 15 in Rock Island as well as another nine locks up and down the Mississippi River due to the flooding. With the river rising to about 20.5 feet at the lock, Lockmaster John Williams said it's too high to operate because of the pressure it would put on the doors.

And with the locks closed, barge traffic is at a standstill.

"They’re chomping at the bit to get up here," said Williams. "But I mean they can’t move," he said.

Alter Logistics Rock Island Terminal Manager Doug Weber said shippers were having to find different modes of transportation for construction materials, fertilizer and grains.

"It's more the local farmers in the Midwest area that we ship to," he said. "They're having issues themselves with the flooding," he said.

The Quad Cities company alone has about fifty barges either loaded with product or waiting to pick something up on the other side of the closed locks.

There are no detours on the Mississippi River, even when just one lock closes.

"It stops navigation," said Williams. "A lot of money sitting on the river. A lot of products are sitting there and it's not moving north and it's not moving south."

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