Army Corps Begins Rock Blasting: Durbin Meets With River Stakeholders

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ALTON, IL (KTVI) -  Those who count on the Mississippi River for shipping are worried the river will soon not be 'deep enough' to keep traffic moving. Monday morning, some of the stakeholders came together to swap ideas.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin along with representatives from farming and industry met in East Alton to talk about what can be done to avert an even deeper crisis.

Trying to avoid a shipping shutdown, the Army Corps of Engineers is doing something it hasn't done anywhere since 1989 -- blasting and removing limestone pinnacles from the bottom of the river just south of Cape Girardeau, hoping to keep the navigation channel at at least nine feet deep. 

The trouble is blasting means the river will close to traffic for 16 hours each day for about a month causing the Coast Guard to triage the loads.

Durbin says the President is personally focusing on the issue. Whether he'll have to twist some arms depends a lot on whether the weather brings the rain needed to keep a big chunk of the economy afloat.