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Lowered Mississippi River reveals hazards to barge traffic

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By McClatchy Newspapers
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 7:28 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers from drought-stricken states along the Mississippi River on Thursday asked the Army Corps of Engineers and President Obama to act quickly to remove navigation hazards from the river that threaten to slow or stop barge traffic.

Low water levels have made it difficult for the corps to maintain a 9-foot-deep and 300-foot-wide navigation channel for barges on the river, an economic lifeline that carries billions of dollars of agricultural products, coal, chemicals and petroleum.

The low water also gives the corps an opportunity to remove a cluster of troublesome rock formations in several miles of the river just south of Cape Girardeau, Mo. Removing them will require shutting down the shipping channel for 12 hours at a time, creating a temporary headache for shippers.

“Long-term this would be in the best interest of navigation,” said Bob Anderson, a spokesman for the corps in Vicksburg, Miss. “Short-term it might be a little bit difficult.”

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