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Emergency dredging closes upper Mississippi River

RED WING, Minn (WSAU-Wheeler News) The Army Corps of Engineers says it might take another couple weeks to re-open the Mississippi River to barge traffic at western Wisconsin's border with Minnesota. Dredging work is underway. Heavy flooding in June caused soil to wash into the river, creating sandbars that have grounded tow-boats from about Red Wing to Winona. The Army Corps now says that almost 200 scheduled barges have not been able to go south.

Channel maintenance coordinator Dan Cottrell says the Corps conducts dredging every year -- but they've never seen the sediment this bad. He said parts of the Mississippi have been impassable for 12 days. Cottrell expects the Winona area to re-open by Monday. Upstream, it might take a couple weeks to complete the project at Red Wing. Cottrell says the barge companies can feel the delays in their bottom lines. One tow-boat that holds 15 barges has about the same maximum load as 870 semi-trucks.