To keep the channel open, the corps used dredging barges and explosives to remove rock pinnacles in the river near Thebes, Ill.
The corps used explosives at the three points on the levee in May 2011 as floodwaters threatened nearby Cairo, Ill.
The corps has hired contractors to use explosives to remove the pinnacles that stretch over about six miles near Thebes, Ill.
The capacity of barges and the number of barges in tow are down, cutting tonnage by 45 percent, while the cost of fuel, personnel and time is the same.
That is not good news for water levels on the Mississippi River which already threaten to slow down, if not shut down, barge traffic between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois.
The drought has withered crops and lowered the Mississippi River’s levels to a point that could force slowdowns, if not shutdowns, of barge traffic.
State Sen. Donne Trotter was charged Wednesday with a felony count for allegedly trying to board an aircraft with a weapon.
Months of drought have left the Mississippi near historic low levels, a problem worsened last month when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reduced the outflow from an upper Missouri River dam.
Low water on the river between East St. Louis and Cairo may limit barge traffic, affecting the transportation of grain and coal.
A contract was awarded last week for a $7.8 million project to construct two earthen berms and a 4,200-foot trench at Cairo, IL.