LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- High water on the Mississippi River has prompted the shut-down of a lock on the Arkansas River in order to keep the flooded Mississippi River from flowing upstream into the Arkansas.
The flooded Mississippi River continues to cause headaches in Arkansas. The Army Corp of Engineers has closed Lock Two; it's not far from where the Arkansas and White Rivers meet the Mississippi. This means shipments from all over the world are being kept out.
This is a major lock in the river's navigation system. Millions of tons of goods pass through every year. The closure is keeping products from getting from Tulsa to New Orleans, but officials say the bigger problem for Arkansas is that it's keeping out products coming through New Orleans.
Whether it's piping from India, aluminum from Russia or grain from the Midwest, chances are if there's tons of it, and it got to Little Rock by way of the Arkansas River.
"Anything coming through the river system in America has to come through New Orleans or the Great Lakes; they virtually all come out of New Orleans," says Paul Latture, the executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority.
"Virtually all of our material either inbound or outbound goes through North of St Louis but the bulk comes in or out of New Orleans so if this last it's a big deal," adds Latture.
Water transport is credited for easing stress on the nation's highways. Experts say barges are used when industries want to import massive amounts of product, because each one can carry about 1,500 tons. It takes sixty big rigs to carry the same weight.
Laurie Driver with the Army Corp of engineers says the closed lock keeps commerce from a major southern port. "So right now barges traffic can go from Tulsa Oklahoma all the way down to lock two but they can not go to the major artery on the Mississippi," says Driver.
The longer goods are kept out, the harder the impact on a billion dollar industry. Flooding also caused things to slow down on the river, so many ports are still busy unloading materials that came in earlier. Officials say they're watching the situation closely.
The Army Corp of Engineers says the lock was closed because the flooded mighty Mississippi was causing that part of Arkansas River to flow upstream. As long as we don't get heavy rain, the Corps is set to reopen it sometime next week.