Coast Guard Reopens Mississippi River to vessel traffic

ST. LOUIS – As of 3:30 p.m. Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard reopened the Upper Mississippi River from mile marker 130 to 145 to vessel traffic.

The river was closed to vessel traffic after the Marquette Transportation Lines towing vessel John Paul Eckstein, pushing 25 grain barges, suffered mechanical problems and struck an unused dock, causing the tow to break up and 1 barge to sink.

The Coast Guard worked with U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and local maritime industry representatives to determine the most efficient and safe plan to allow the transit of delayed vessels through the previously closed portion of river.

Prior to the reopening, 21 vessels were delayed as a result of the river closure.

Multi-beam sonar aboard the Army Corp survey vessel Boyer was able to detect the sunken barge on the river bottom near river mile 142.3, approximately 1.5 miles south of the initial accident.

Sonar was also utilized to confirm the navigation channel was safe for vessel traffic. Army Corp Motor Vessel Pathfinder marked the sunken barge with bouys to ensure safe transit through the area.

The Coast Guard, Army Corp of Engineers, and local industry representatives will continue to work together to ensure the safe passage of all delayed vessels until the back log is eliminated.

The exact cause of the accident remains under investigation by the Coast Guard.

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