Despite all the snow, the Mississippi River is still flowing — and so is barge traffic. Tug boat crews are tending long lines of grain-laden barges as they head downriver for New Orleans from ports as far north as Saint Paul. Dick Lambert, a state transportation spokesman, says one of the biggest tows headed upriver past Iowa this week has 12 fully-loaded barges.
Lambert says “Each one of these barges carries approximately 15-hundred tons of product which is the equivalent to 15 railroad cars or about 60 truckloads.” The barges headed downriver are carrying mostly corn and soybeans or sand and gravel, while those going upriver are hauling salt, coal and fertilizer. Lambert says they’re expecting a productive commercial season on the river.
He says “We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to move a lot of grain this year and we’ll also anticipate moving a lot of building products – salt, cement and a lot of the bulk products that otherwise would have to move by rail or by truck.” Lambert says shipping by barge is normally less expensive and more fuel-efficient than rail or truck.