Mississippi River barge shipping resumes after flooding

(ST. LOUIS) — The Upper Mississippi River fully reopened to boat and barge traffic this week for the first time since November, with shippers scrambling to move a backlog of overdue fertilizer barges to farmers racing to sow corn before the end of the month, Reuters reported.

Some fertilizer shipments had been idled on river banks near St. Louis and farther downriver for more than two months as the worst Midwest flooding since 1993 shuttered locks and triggered shipping restrictions on the flood-swollen waterway.

The U.S. Coast Guard lifted its shipping ban in St. Louis harbor on Wednesday for the first time since May 2. The last upriver locks shuttered by floods in mid-March were reopened by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday.

The shipping window may be short-lived, however, as heavy rains expected across the Midwest over the next week could again raise water levels on the river, the main U.S. artery for grain and fertilizer shipments.

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By Professional Mariner Staff