Economy
5:12 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Corps Begins Grand Tower Rock Removal As River Levels Rise

The Army Corps of Engineers has begun rock removal work at Grand Tower. The new pinnacle extraction project comes at a time of rising river levels.

One contractor team began removing rocks at Grand Tower on Tuesday.

Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Mike Peterson says rock removal is still ongoing at Thebes and the project has expanded slightly.

“We’ve got one crew just south of Thebes taking care of some rock pinnacles we discovered during the project and have the opportunity to deal with now, as well as a second crew heading north to Grand Tower where there’s some rock that needs to be removed just for the immediate future,” Peterson said.

The river will be closed to navigation between Grand Tower and Thebes each day between noon and midnight while crews remove rocks.

According to Peterson, dredges continue working the Mississippi River near Cape Girardeau and St. Louis to help maintain a nine foot navigation channel.

“Once they’re done with their dredging piece, we will have that navigation channel, the 9 foot depth to basically what would be a new record low, a negative 7 at St. Louis or a zero at Thebes, we’ll be able to keep traffic moving,” Peterson said.

The gage at Thebes was as low as 5 feet  on Tuesday. But river levels will jump sharply through February 4. National Weather Service hydrologist Mary Lamm says this is due to heavy rain in the upper Mississippi River basin.

“It should rise fairly quickly through the weekend, the first part of next week, before it starts cresting,” Lamm said. “We’re looking for about a ten foot rise between now and next Monday.”

But Lamm says we still need to see more rain to return to normal river conditions.

“As we go through more springtime and later into the spring, it’s going to take more snow in the upper part of the Mississippi basin that will see that snow melt. It’ll keep the river up at more normal levels during the spring,” Lamm said.

After it crests on Monday, the river is forecast to fall by about 9 feet at Thebes by February 13.