The Coast Guard reopened a nine-mile section of the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, La., that was closed Friday when three barges sank amid high water and fast currents.
The barges, owned by Archer Daniels Midland, broke loose from a 20-barge tow being pushed downriver Friday. One of the barges struck a dock and two of them hit a bridge.
The Coast Guard said that will allow transits of northbound barges while plans are made to salvage the sunken barges. Southbound barges will be allowed to transit once the northbound backup is cleared.
Record flooding along the river system has produced swift, unpredictable currents that are hindering navigation on the main conduit for U.S. grain exports.
The Coast Guard imposed traffic restrictions in numerous areas. Those restrictions include speed restrictions near spillways, daylight-only traffic under bridges and the closing of waterways including the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway branch linking Morgan City, La., with Baton Rouge.
The opening of spillways upstream from Baton Rouge has stabilized water levels at the ports of New Orleans, South Louisiana and Baton Rouge, which remain open to ships. The Army Corps of Engineers has deployed additional dredges to clear silt dumped at the river’s mouth by the high water.
At numerous points along the river, the flooding broke records set in 1937. The river’s crest has moved south into Louisiana, but flooding will continue for weeks along upriver tributaries and in the Atchafalaya River basin, which was flooded when the Corps opened the Morganza floodway upstream from Baton Rouge.