Oklahoma barge traffic unaffected by low levels in Mississippi River

The Associated Press


While the low water level of the lower Mississippi River has resulted in some barges getting stuck in the mud, that is not the situation on the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System in eastern Oklahoma.

Lack of rainfall has left the Mississippi River close to record levels. Eastern Oklahoma is suffering a growing drought that has hit the state but so far, water levels from the Port of Catoosa through the Muskogee Port haven’t affected barge traffic.

“Currently, the Tulsa Ports are not seeing any shipping delays as a result,” stated a spokeswoman in an email to OK Energy Today.

That’s not to say problems won’t develop on the waterway. In the case of the Mississippi, it’s not just barges getting stuck and affected. Recreational boaters and cruise line traffic has also be disrupted by the low water.

Rodney Beard, Navigation Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Tulsa District indicated that normal barge traffic is proceeding on the Oklahoma and Arkansas waterway.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” he said. “So far, so good.”

The U.S. Coast Guard reported eight “groundings” of barges in the past week according to the U.S. News and World Report. 

One such grounding left dozens of tows and barges lined up in both directions of the river including a Viking cruise ship with nearly 350 passengers on board.


In Oklahoma, barges carrying grain, steel  and other products travel the 445-mile McClellan-Kerry Navigation System through Oklahoma and Arkansas and eventually to the Mississippi River.