The 2019 shipping season on the Upper Mississippi River is underway.

The US Army Corps of Engineers today reported the Motor Vessel Aaron F. Barrett pushed a dozen barges through Lock and Dam 2 near Hastings around 7 o'clock Wednesday morning. At last report, the barges were approaching St. Paul Wednesday afternoon.

Traditionally, the arrival of the first river tow at the Lock and Dam at Hastings signals that all of the Corps of Engineers locks on the Upper Mississippi are open to commercial and recreational vessels, but officials note the high water flow on the river continues to force the closure of locks in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri as the spring flood crest moves downstream. They also say there is still a chance of additional closures in southern Minnesota that could impede traffic on the river in coming weeks.

The shipping season is off to a late start this year due to spring flooding. The latest start unrelated to flooding was last year when the first barges did not arrive until April 11th. The latest start of the shipping season due to flooding was in 2011 when the first commercial vessel didn’t arrive at Hastings until May 11th.

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