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Coast Guard opens lower Mississippi River to all traffic

September 4, 2021 GMT

NEW ORL.EANS (AP) — The Lower Mississippi River is now reopened to all vessel traffic in New Orleans and key ports throughout southeast Louisiana after Hurricane Ida, authorities said Saturday.

In a news release, Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson said the successful removal of several power lines that had blocked the waterway due to a downed transmission tower after the storm and a survey of the ship channel allowed the river to be “deemed open for all marine traffic.”

Watson said there’s been significant progress “reconstituting ports and waterways throughout Southeast Louisiana,.”

“The marine transportation system in this region connects our heartland’s harvest with global markets and provides vital energy supply to our nation. We continue to support the State of Louisiana as we collectively recover from the impacts of Hurricane Ida,” he said.

As of Friday, there were at least 23 inbound and two outbound vessels queued in the Mississippi River waiting the reopening, the Coast Guard said.

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Even though waterways are open to traffic, the Coast Guard warns mariners to be mindful of shoaling, storm debris or other hazards that might exist. As the river reopens, vessels need to maintain the slowest safe speed near ongoing vessel salvage operations, officials said. In addition, vessels are recommended to sail as close to the center of the channel as possible because of possible sunken or partially sunken barges. Deep draft vessels operating on the Lower Mississippi River are restricted to daylight transit only.