The low water level of the Mississippi River is exposing sandbars and inhibiting barge traffic to and from ports. Barges and boats waiting to enter the Madison Parish Port can be seen from the air on Wednesday. / Ben Corda/The News-Star
JIM SALTER, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Barge operators are crediting the hustle by stewards of the Mississippi River for averting a potentially crippling shutdown of the vital commerce artery.
Shippers say the Army Corps of Engineers has done all it can to keep the river open. Those efforts include ongoing work to rid a stretch of the river south of St. Louis of treacherous bedrock, and the agency's release of water from lakes to raise the Mississippi's levels.
The president of Cargill's shipping arm, Rick Calhoun, says that "by hook and by crook it hasn't gotten as bad as we thought."
Barge operators since November had worried that the Mississippi might shrink to a level that would force restrictions on how much cargo barges can carry, effectively halting shipping on the river.
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