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Mississippi River flooding affects Port of Shreveport-Bossier

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Written by
Bobbie J. Clark
bclark@shreveporttimes.com

 

The Port of Shreveport-Bossier will have to rely more on its rail lines now that the Red River's access to Mississippi River has been cut off because of flooding.

The Port of Shreveport-Bossier will have to rely more on its railroad and truck transportation now that the Red River’s access to the Mississippi River has been cut off.

The threat of flooding has forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close the Red River’s two points of entry to the Mississippi River.

The Old River lock and dam was closed Thursday. It’s the port’s main access to the Mississippi. It is in West Feliciana Parish, 200 miles down the Red River from the port.

The other access point is the Port Allen lock and dam, which is accessed by the Atchafalaya River. Officials say both access points will be down at least two weeks and maybe up to a month.

Officials say it is too early to tell how much of an economic impact the closures will have, but all companies that use the river to transport goods will be affected. The port has 16 tenants, most of which use the river to transport products to and from their local facilities.

For example, Oakley Louisiana uses the river to transport myriad fertilizer products. Ternium, an international steel company, transports raw goods to produce coated steel products.

Eric England, the port’s executive director, said the port will have to rely on other modes of transportation or storage until the access points open back up.

“Our transportation connections to the Gulf of Mexico will be temporarily cut off until river levels drop significantly,” he said. “This is an instance where the port’s diversification beyond river transportation is benefitting us.”

England said they have reached out to their customers to make sure they know the port has other modes of transportation available.

While flooding is a major concern for communities in south Louisiana, there is not much concern about flooding in the northwestern part of the state.

Richard Brontoli, executive director of the Red River Valley Association, said the Red River will rise from all the water backing into it from the Mississippi, but it won’t be significant.

“There’s no way the water would back up that far,” he said. “It’s just not going to happen.”

Regardless, commerce will continue to be affected if the Mississippi continues to flood.

Until flooding subsides, all ports on the Red River will be unable to access the Mississippi River.

Brontoli said all the ports on the Mississippi are shut down, so even trucking goods to them, instead of using barges, would be futile.

“If the Ohio Valley continues to get two or three or more inches of rain a week, we could be down a month or more,” Brontoli said. “It may start to hurt us.”

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Written by demon53

May 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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