Dec 18 (Reuters) - About 210 southbound barges were waiting to pass through a closed six-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near Thebes, Illinois, on Tuesday afternoon, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said.
The Coast Guard is closing the river to barge traffic for 16 hours every day for the next 30 to 45 days as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers excavates river-bottom rock that poses a risk to navigation on the drought-reduced river.
The 14 southbound barge tows containing about 15 barges each will be allowed to transit the six-mile safety zone around 10:00 p.m. central time on Tuesday evening, said Coast Guard spokesman Colin Fogarty. There were also 3 northbound tows waiting to pass, but those will be allowed to move through on Wednesday night, he said. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago)