Sen. Durbin comments on troubles on Mississippi River

Low water levels on the Mississippi continue to raise concerns about barge traffic.

KHQA spoke with

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

about the situation.

He says President Obama has made fixing the problem one of his top directives.

He says, " Let me tell you, the President's no stranger to Illinois or even to Quincy. He visited there as a candidate and as a senator. He brought it up at the staff meeting and said, " What's is this I hear about the Mississippi ? Are we moving and doing everything we should? And at that point things really started cooking."

On Monday two


will start blasting away rock pinnacles near Thebes, Illinois that have appeared in the river because of the low water levels.

Senator Durbin says getting two contractors to work on a situation like this so quickly is proof of the priority the President has placed on this issue.

We also asked the Senator about comments that barge workers are getting laid off a month earlier than usual because of the problem.

He says that everybody is feeling the effects of this slowdown on the



Durbin says, "There's an impact when the commodities that are being moved on the river aren't moving. Whether it's coal for power plants or agricultural chemicals for farmers who just went through a drought. It's a big part of our lives that we take for granted in good times but in bad times we realize how important it is."

Senator Durbin says he will meet with the contractors on Monday to determine a plan of action regarding when the blasting will happen and if there needs to be breaks to allow river traffic to move through safely.