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Navigation Conditions Continue to Challenge Barge Shippers

Highwater and fog has disrupted barge operations on Mississippi River last several weeks

Barge logistics saw some improvement when Smithland Locks and Dam on the Ohio River reopened on March 9 says the USDA Grain Transportation Report.

It had been closed since February 20 due to highwater conditions. The reopening allowed traffic to resume in and out of the Ohio River. However, due to the closure, no down-bound grain traffic was reported down river at Olmsted Locks and Dam for the week ending March 9.

Navigation conditions on the lower Mississippi River continue to concern grain exporters and hamper barge operations. American Commercial Barge Line’s website reports their tow size from Cairo, IL to the Gulf has been reduced from 40 to 25 barges.

Highwater and occasional fog has disrupted barge operations on the Mississippi River for the last several weeks.

For the week ending March 9, only 486 grain barges were unloaded in the New Orleans area, the lowest since June 2017.

This reduction shows in analysis of the number of barges unloaded weekly in New Orleans, with the 4-week average being 21% less than the 3-year average during the same period of the year.

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