The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is picking up where it left off in clearing rock from barge channels in the Mississippi River.
Since the 1920s, the Corps has periodically been tasked with removing sedimentary rock outcrops that formed during the last ice age.
Starting Wednesday, a St. Louis company contracted by the corps will begin crushing rock along two stretches of the river about 15 miles north of Cape Girardeau.
Michael Rodgers, project manager for the Corps’ St. Louis District, says the Massmen Construction crew will be clearing a channel at least 9 feet deep and 300 feet wide.
“The contractor will basically be jumping around from point to point on the river to remove most restrictive rock locations," Rodgers said. "Some locations there’s 20 cubic yards in an area and in some there’s a couple hundred.”
Rodgers says the project this winter is expected to relocate roughly 2800 cubic yards of rock to deeper areas of the river. It is an extension of work that began last winter when the middle Mississippi reached to near-record low levels after months of drought. Though barge loads were limited, the rock removal helped keep the river open to barge traffic.