Dredge Working To Reopen Port Of Osceola To Barge Traffic

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(Mississippi County, AR) Economic fallout from a "falling" Mississippi River is growing.

A dredge, contracted by the Corp of Engineers, has been working since sunday to clear sand and silt from the Port of Osceola,  Arkansas.

But it could be another week to ten days before the Port's harbor channel is opened for barge traffic again.

The dredge "Venture" works to reopen the Port of Osceola harbor channel, closed for a month because of low water on the Mississippi River.

Marvin Roddy,  with the Memphis District Corp of Engineers, says the dredge can handle just about anything in the channel,"Pretty much, cut and dry, the dredge is set up like a large vacuum cleaner."

Roddy says the channel presents the "Venture" and its crew with a huge task, "Fifty three hundred feet in length and approximately two hundred and twenty five feet in width. So we'll be dredging the entire length of this harbor before we leave here."

Thirty barges loaded with corn are still sitting in the harbor and have been for a month, unable to move in such shallow water.

News Channel Three was at Consolidated Grain and Barge Company August 23rd, when the last grain trucks off-loaded corn and the business shut down.

Jeff Worsham, Osceola Port Manager, says the closure has been costly to farmers and grain haulers, "It's costing them more in deisel and time as far as getting their trucks back and having to wait in line. Money wise i couldn't put a dollar figure on it right now."

As many as twenty five hundred grain trucks have been turned away from Consolidated and sent to other ports.

For the next several days the "business" end of the "Venture" will sweep from one side of the channel to the other vacuuming sand and silt.

Worsham hopes things soon get back to normal.

He wants to see the 30 stranded corn barges get to theri destination,"Hopefully once the dredge gets through they'll be able to get them out on the river and get them on down to New Orleans."

After the Port of Osceola has reopened, the dredge "Venture" is scheduled to either be on the Wolf River in Memphis or headed to the port at Helena/West Helena Arkansas which has been closed due to low water.