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Barge traffic on the Upper Mississippi River.

The 2019 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District navigation season is coming to an end. The last tow of the season departed St. Paul, Thursday, Nov. 28.

The departure of the Motor Vessel Kelly Rae Erickson bookmarks a challenging navigation season that started April 24 with the arrival of the Motor Vessel Aaron F. Barrett. Following the Barrett, there would not be another tow to reach St. Paul for more than three weeks due to spring flooding. The second tow to reach St. Paul was the Motor Vessel Thomas E. Erickson. She reached the capital city May 20. The average date for the first tow is around March 18.

There were more than 12,000 commercial vessels and 77 million tons of commodities shipped this season. The shorter navigation season resulted in approximately a 30 percent drop in tonnage compared to the 2018 navigation season and about 25 percent drop from the 10-year average.

“The 2019 navigation season was one of the more challenging seasons we’ve had in a while,” said Jim Rand, St. Paul District locks and dams chief. “We had a really late start due to Mother Nature and fought high water much of the summer. Fortunately, we were able to work with our partners and keep the system open to ensure commodities such as corn and soybeans could reach global markets.”

The last tow of the 2018 navigation season to depart St. Paul was the Motor Vessel Thomas E. Erickson. She departed Nov. 25, 2018.        

The Corps closed Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam and Lock and Dam 1, both in Minneapolis, to navigation Nov. 9.

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