Tenn-Tom waterway closed due to sandbars

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss (WCBI.) – Most people go to sandbars along the Tenn-Tom Waterway during the summer.

Now, high flood waters have brought the sandbar to the river.

Right now, river traffic is shut down in the area because two areas were created by the flooding rains.

It’s unusual not to see any barges traveling down the waterway. The rare sight is also costing businesses money.

However, a plan is in the works to open up the river.

For six days, the Tennessee-Tombigee Waterway has been closed.

Water went over the lock and dam walls, leaving a sandbar behind.

Tennessee-Tombigbee Operations Manager Justin Murphree said it could awhile before you see barges going down river again.

“Around Aberdeen we have a significant shoaling area, there a sandbar that makes it impassable to barge traffic,” said Murphree.

It could take several weeks before a dredge channel is opened.

“It brought in a lot of sediment, affected some of the recreation areas depositing sediment on them and also stopped barge traffic in this area around Columbus for about a week. Uh, but we also have significant shoaling on the north end of the project here and it stopped barge traffic completely up there,” said Murphree.

Businesses along the waterway are losing money every day the locks are shut.

“The towing companies are affected, the shippers are affected, the local business in this area are affected cause they can’t get their shipments,” said Murphree.

Grain and rocks move down the Tenn-Tom. The businesses that sell them sit and wait.

Logistics Services Inc. Port Manager Eddie Rushing said preparing sells for springtime is something he’ll be observing closely since the closing of the waterway.

“We have rock that comes in, limestone that comes in from up north uh fixing to be springtime and a very time for rock coming in for us to sell and our tonnages are definitely gonna be hurt because of it,” said Rushing. “The six days that we lost from not being able to operate you know, about ten barges that we didn’t get to load or unload uh in that period so yes we are definitely affected by the revenue side of it as well.”

An emergency dredge channel is in the works but it could take about six weeks to complete.

Tenn-Tom Waterway Development Authority held a conference call Monday with area businesses about plans to fix the sandbars.

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