Madeline Heim, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Around 175 million tons of freight travels on the Mississippi River each year, and from the river’s headwaters to southern Illinois, a series of locks and dams guide barges through the journey.Traffic is only increasing, but the locks and dams have aged far past their life expectancy. Even functioning properly, they slow barges down, and shippers and commodity groups fear a worse infrastructure breakdown is on the horizon.
Mayors along the Mississippi River are asking for more federal help as the drought that has plagued the nation’s water superhighway in recent weeks drags on. City leaders shared wide-ranging impacts of dry conditions at a Tuesday press conference hosted by the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, from barge slowdowns to water main breaks caused by shifting dry ground.