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River traffic from Memphis bridge closure impacts the Heartland

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 6:14 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Traffic moving on the Mississippi River is stopped in Memphis after the bridge closed Tuesday due to a major crack found on the bridge.

Hundreds of barges are at a stand-still on the river and the impact could be felt in the Heartland.

”As of today, there are about 400 barges laying in wait with about 40 or 43 tow-boats. That’s about double the number of boats from yesterday,” Deb Calhoun said.

Deb Calhoun with Waterways Council Inc. said the boats waiting in Memphis will impact the whole country.

“So many commodities that Americans depend upon move on the inland waterways system,” Calhoun said.

Some of them include grain, construction materials and fuel.

“When there’s delays getting those to the export market or to the customer or to the consumer, there will be impacts,” she said.

Even when the river has high or low water levels, it can cause holdups.

“I think that often inland waterways are out of sight, out of mind until there is a crisis like this,” she said.

Even if the bridge does open in the next few days, the traffic won’t go away immediately.

“There’s going to be impacts felt for the next several days depending on when they can reopen it,” she said.

Engineers are working to fix the bridge and right now the reopening date is unknown.

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