CHICAGO The drought-drained Mississippi River will stay open for commerce as workers make progress clearing rock from a critical stretch of the nation's busiest waterway, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said on Monday after touring the river on a boat.
The White House has said "any option is on the table" to keep the river open to commerce if water levels drop too low, Durbin said in a phone interview.
Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, and other officials took to the water near Thebes, Illinois, where workers have been removing river-bottom rocks to aid transportation after the worst drought in half a century drained the Mississippi and the rivers that feed into it.
Low water has already impeded the flow of billions of dollars in grain, coal, fertilizer and other commodities between the central United States and export terminals at the Gulf of Mexico.
(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)