Federal lawmakers from several states along the Mississippi River are pressing to modernize the waterway's locks-and-dams system, which they say desperately needs repair.
Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk of Illinois, Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt from Missouri, and Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley from Iowa are pressing the Environmental and Public Works Committee to ensure funding to hasten what they term critical improvements.
The lawmakers say the lock-and-dam system is seven decades old and doesn't fit the requirements of modern barge technology on a river that's a crucial U.S. commerce corridor.
The lawmakers' letter this week to the committee follows an idling of barge traffic at the river's busiest lock near St. Louis forced by emergency repairs to a fractured buffer that helps guide the barges into the lock.
- See a full feature report from our Tim Lloyd on the issue of crumbling Mississippi River infrastructure and how it threatens Midwestern agricultural exports.
Follow St. Louis Public Radio on Twitter: @stlpublicradio