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Low Water Is Mixed Blessing For Memphis Riverfront Project and Harbor Businesses

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(Memphis) All this recent rain still isn't helping barge traffic on the Mississippi River.

That's helping a major Memphis riverfront development project, but causing headaches for businesses that depend on the river.

Work on Beale Street Landing is moving "full steam ahead."

Crews are taking advantage of a record drop on the Mississippi River and in the Mud Island Harbor.

Benny Lendermon, President of the Riverfront Development Corporation, says it's a mixed blessing, "They're making incredible progress because of the low water. Low water causes problems some places, but low water's helped them get this stuff underway."

Lendermon says the unique, streamlined, building that will house a terminal for arriving riverboat passengers is 98-percent complete.

Now, thanks to five months of low water, workers can tackle the riverboat dock and a  sweeping terrace.

But low water in the Mud Island Harbor is having the opposite effect.

That's why the dredge "Venture" has been "on site" since October 29th, removing excess sand and silt from the channel.

Captain William Lozier, of Memphis Queen Riverboats, says his is not the only company facing low water issues, "There are many businesses in the harbor. There's probably about five different barge companies that run barges in and out of this harbor. "

Captain Lozier says this is the "down time" for riverboat tours, but he's busy moving his six boats out the dredge's way,

"An air-boat, a jet-boat, four passenger boats. And all those have to be moved whenever the dredge comes in."

Lozier says he's willing to eat the cost of manpower and fuel to get the harbor channel dredged to a passable depth.

He just hopes water on the Mississippi gets higher sooner rather than  later, "They're forecasting that the river will go a lot lower. They said it might make it back to ten again during the winter."

The Riverfront Development Corporation says two events have already been held in the passenger terminal building.

The entire project should be completed by this time next year.

In the meantime the dredge "Venture" is expected to finish operations within the week.