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Coast Guard closes Mississippi River to commercial traffic near Diamond Bluff

After two tow boats and their barges ran aground on July 6, the U.S. Coast Guard has closed the Mississippi River to commercial shipping traffic in an area just upriver from Diamond Bluff.

Officials with the St. Paul District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended to the Coast Guard that the river be closed in the area because sediment build up in the river had caused the groundings.

Coast Guard officials then closed the shipping channel on July 7, from Mile 801 to 807, approximately four miles upstream of Lock and Dam No. 3.

The Corps sent a contractor to the area and dredging began Monday.

The contractor is using a backhoe mounted on a barge to dredge the material from the river bottom. It is then placed on a barge and taken to another location for unloading.

The Corps estimates that the channel should re-open later this evening (Tuesday) or Wednesday morning.

Corps officials said recreational traffic has not been restricted at this time. However, they advise boaters to slow down and use extreme caution when traveling past the dredging equipment.