The Army Corps of Engineers will begin blasting Mississippi River rock outcrops later today, and the rocks could impede barge traffic south of Cape Girardeau near Thebes, Illinois.
Corps officials originally planned to start this work in late January. Instead, they began this weekend. Contractors are already scraping off the tops of the underwater rocks. Today, they will drill holes and fill them with explosives, according to spokesperson Mike Peterson.
“The debris is going to stay in the river, but it’s going to be moved out of the way of the navigation channel,” says Peterson. “Some is going to be used to extend the boat ramp here in Thebes, because it’s so low it’s hard to even get a survey boat in right now.”
The rock work will last 30 to 45 days. The Coast Guard will block barge traffic near Thebes between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
River industry leaders applauded the Corps’ expedited schedule and their decision to release water from the Kaskaskia River in southern Illinois, but they continued to urge the Corps to provide more Missouri River water to combat falling water levels on the Mississippi.