This lock on the Ohio River lowers barges around 25 to the water level below the dam.

Illinois waterway system reopens to traffic

A major rehabilitation project on the Illinois River has been completed, allowing for the 12 million tons of food and ag commodities that leave the state to resume. This past summer, the Illinois River was shut down to go through necessary infrastructure upgrades with all of the newly completed work accompanied by a price tag totaling roughly $200 million. 

Back in September, corn growers and NCGA staff toured four active construction sites along the Rock Island District including LaGrange, Peoria, Starved Rock, and Marseilles. The inland waterways system is essential to getting U.S. corn to the export market, with more than 60% of the grain produced in the U.S. being transported by barge.

Illinois corn grower Terry Smith pointed out that waterways transportation isn’t just more efficient, it also makes the roads safer.

“If you know some of the numbers from just Illinois, Illinois in 2018 had a little over 83 million ton of product move up and down the river. That took roughly 2.1 million semis off the highways of Illinois,” he said.

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