GRANITE CITY, Ill. -- Crews are scrambling to make repairs near the busiest lock on a vital Mississippi River commerce corridor near St. Louis.
Hundreds of barges and tugboats remained snarled Wednesday in a backlog that was growing worse by the hour.
Workers closed Lock 27 last Saturday after discovering that a protection cell had split open, spilling enough of the rock into the river to obstruct passage. The cell is a rock-filled steel cylinder against which barges rub to help align them for proper entry into the lock.
The Army Corps of Engineers spokesman says the portion has been exposed because the river’s level has been lowered dramatically by the nation’s drought.
As of Wednesday morning, nearly five dozen tugboats and more than 400 barges were caught up in the logjam.