Rock Blasting Set on Drought-plagued Mississippi River

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Barge traffic along a key stretch of Mississippi River is now restricted as crews prepare to begin blasting large rock formations that have threatened shipping on the drought-plagued waterway.

The Army Corps of Engineers says contractors will undertake urgent demolition of the submerged granite pinnacles near Thebes, Ill. That means that portion of the river south of St. Louis is closed to shipping for all but eight hours each day.

Months of drought have left water levels up to 20 feet below normal along a 180-mile stretch of the river from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill. The problem worsened last month when the corps cut the outflow from an upper Missouri River dam by two-thirds, meaning far less water from the Missouri River flows into the Mississippi.
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