In a winter that’s been called the third worst in history, everyone and almost everything seemed to take a hit.
Cars were affected, schools had snow days and pipes busted all over the place, but travel on the Illinois River continued.
Unlike the Upper Mississippi River, the Illinois River stays open year round allowing barge travel to continue and this winter was no exception. AEP River Operations Manager Marty Hettel tells WGIL normally there’s barges 15 long carrying goods up and down the river, but this winter that number was significantly reduced.
“With the ice conditions that we were facing on the Illinois River our tows were reduced to 6 barges, now we still transited the area but certainly not as efficient as we would with a 15 barge to. You’re actually transiting with about 40% of a normal tow in ice conditions like that.”
Hettel says using only 6 barges meant it took 60% more boats to move the same amount of barges to their destinations.
He says while they were still able to continue the transit process it wasn’t as efficient as if on an open river, or a river not constricted by ice.