High Mississippi River slows Port of Greater Baton Rouge operations

    The Mississippi River’s high water is impacting operations at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, says Jay Hardman, the port’s executive director.

    The high water, which has been at or above flood levels for a record 135-plus days, prompted the prolonged closure of the port’s grain elevator for at least two months, Hardman says.

    The elevator allowed vessels to unload 1,500 pounds of grain in roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour. Without it, unloading the same amount of grain takes an estimated three hours.

    Deepwater vessels are also seeing restrictions caused by the high waters and must now dock at the port instead of setting anchors in the river because the river’s current is so strong.

    “The kicker is it’s the same drill every year, but this year it’s so protracted,” Hardman says, adding the high water has also prompted restrictions that has caused a pilot shortage, especially in south Louisiana. “It’s causing a lot more rigid planning and a lot more attention to detail.”

    WAFB-TV also reports that the flood levels have caused farmers in the region to move their livestock and put several downtown Baton Rouge construction projects on hold. The city might see extra costs from the project expected to bring a bike path along the levee, according to transportation and drainage director Fred Raiford. The latest delay involves concrete work for AT&T cell towers to expand 5G coverage, which paused in March.

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