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First northbound barge has yet to reach La Crosse on Mississippi River

LA CROSSE, WI (WTAQ) - The wheels of commerce are moving slower than normal on the Mississippi River, thanks to our long cold winter.

The first northbound barge usually gets to La Crosse by now. But the Army Corps of Engineers said Monday the nearest vessel was about 200 miles to the south, at Bettendorf Iowa.

The delays could mean trouble for road crews, construction firms, and utilities that rely on the river barges to bring them supplies and equipment. Some companies planned ahead, and had materials shipped by rail.

Meanwhile, the Army Corps said the ice was still 29 inches deep last Wednesday on a wide river opening at Lake Pepin. That's the deepest since 1998, when the Corps started taking measurements. They'll check the lake again Wednesday.

Normally, barges can break through 12 to 15 inches of ice on Lake Pepin -- and it's their last major obstacle before reaching Minneapolis-St. Paul.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)