Dredges used to keep barge traffic flowing on Illinois River
The Associated Press
PEORIA — Water levels are down across Illinois because of the drought, and that’s causing some issues for barge traffic.
Heart of Illinois Regional Port District Director Steve Jaeger said dredgers are doing what they can to keep traffic moving along the Illinois River. Jaeger also told WJBC Radio that they’re keeping loads lighter to avoid scraping bottom.
Phil Thornton with the Illinois Corn Growers Association said the depth of barges is being cut to nine feet. That’s the distance from the ship waterline to the bottom of the vessel.
Jaeger said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dredging and marking a channel from Pekin down toward Beardstown. He said they’re trying to keep the channel as close to nine feet as possible but low water levels are making the water shallower than normally expected.
Jaeger added that the situation on the Mississippi River is more complicated.
“They have so many locks and dams on the Mississippi,” Jaeger said. “Just between Dubuque, Iowa, and Alton, Ill., there are 17 locks and dams. Lock and dam operations can be impacted by the lack of water draft and can slow the commerce down even more.”