A recent study by Wisconsin researchers suggests that the failure of any of the 25 aging locks on the upper Mississippi River could result in nearly half a million truckloads of freight on highways between Minnesota and Missouri.
The study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison estimates that a shutdown of the river at Hannibal, Missouri, would require trucks to move over 12 million tons of grain during a nine-month shipping season, costing millions of dollars and damaging roads.
Most of the shipments would travel through southern Minnesota and Iowa, while a smaller amount would move through Wisconsin and Illinois, causing nearly $29 million in pavement damage.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the backlogged maintenance costs for locks and dams of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers totals to over $1 billion.
A dire warning tonight about what could happen if one of the locks or dams on the Mississippi River fails.
There are 25 aging locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi.
Each day during the shipping season, the river is dotted with massive barges going up and down the river.
A new study shows between Winona and La Crosse, the locks and dams are more than 80 years old.
Should river shipping be halted because of a lock or dam malfunction, it could mean shippers would have to use trucks. That could put several hundred additional trucks on the region's roads in order to transport that material.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it is behind on maintenance of the locks and dams.