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Upper Mississippi locks almost ready for shipping season

The upper Mississippi River will be open to shipping in less than two weeks.

Patrick Moes with the St. Paul District of the Army Corps of Engineers tells Brownfield there were four winter maintenance projects.  He says Lock and Dam #2 in Hastings, Minnesota, and Lock and Dam #4 in Alma, Wisconsin reopened Wednesday.  “And then Lock and Dam #3 in Red Wing (MN) and Lock and Dam #7 which is in La Crescent (MN) are the two that will reopen March 16th.”

Patrick Moes says the mild winter has been good for crews doing lock and dam maintenance this year, which included a major overhaul requiring heavy equipment at Hastings. “The other three locks were more working on various things within the guide walls and the wall you see along those sites just to make sure the navigation boats can safely enter the chamber.”

Moes says with the lack of snowfall, there’s no concern about spring flooding unless a major weather system moves through, but if it gets too dry, “That is what the locks and dams were built for. They were built for drought conditions and that’s where they do what they were designed to do and to maintain that necessary nine-foot depth for safe passage and navigation.”

Moes says it’s important to farmers and the nation to have the ability to safely move the grains produced in the upper Midwest to ports across the globe.

Until Lock and Dam #7 at La Crescent, Minnesota opens, the furthest upstream barges can get is La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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