ST. LOUIS – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ rock removal
work is underway on the Mississippi River near Thebes, Ill., in order to
maintain a nine-foot-deep channel, they announced this week.
Work began Saturday, upstream of the Thebes railroad bridge.
Low water on the river has allowed rock removal to be accomplished using excavating
equipment, according to a release. The progress of the excavation reduces the
need for marine blasting, although that remains one of the options for
permanently improving the channel for low water periods.
The U.S. Coast Guard is coordinating notices to mariners,
and river closures are in effect for 16 hours on working days between 6 a.m.
and 10 p.m. each day during the rock removal, with traffic allowed to pass for
eight hours. The initial project is expected to last about 30 days.
The work will remove around 890 cubic yards of limestone
from the water-starved river to reduce the risk for vessels in the channel
during low water. The rocks are part of a large formation that impedes the
navigation channel during low water. More rock removal is planned for later
dates, but the work beginning Saturday will address areas that will have the most
immediate impact on the navigation.
Removing the rock formations are one of many operations the
Corps and U.S. Coast Guard are undertaking along the narrowing river to
maintain the nine-foot-deep channel for river navigation. Dredging has been
ongoing since early July to preserve the channel, as well as continued surveys,
channel patrols to keep commerce safely moving on the Middle Mississippi.
The Corps is in constant communication and coordination with
the Coast Guard and the river industry as the drought has reduced water levels
throughout the Mississippi River Basin to historic lows, the Corps said.
The Corps of Engineers is working with the Fish and Wildlife
Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation to avoid and minimize
impacts to the environment. The focus by both the Corps and the Coast Guard,
Hall said, is safety during the operation. The Coast Guard has established a
safety zone for the affected sections of the river. The safety zone will
prohibit access to the river and affected areas along the banks on both sides
of the blasting sites. Safe public access to the work area is limited. Coast
Guard, Corps and local safety officials remind anyone planning to be in the
area to be aware of posted signage and respect private property.
Coast Guard, Corps and local safety officials remind anyone
planning to be in the area to be aware of posted signage and respect private
property. Be aware that places newly revealed by low water are unstable.
Signage and other warning notices may not be immediately visible since many
were placed when the river was at a higher stage. Approaching the water at any
time should include a life vest. When in doubt, don’t go out, the Corps advised.
For more information, visit http://www.mvs.usace.army.mil/lowwater.