Research Reports

Barge Movements on the Upper Mississippi River: Trends and Projections 1963-2002

Principal Investigator:

Jerry Fruin, Dan Halbach

August 1994

Report no. Mn/DOT P94-19

Topics: Water transportation

The volume of commodities moved by barge on the upper Mississippi River had nearly 50 years of uninterrupted growth after the completion of the locks and dams.and the nine foot channel system in the 1930s. This upward trend accelerated after towboats were switched from steam to diesel electric power in 1950s. Figure 1 shows the yearly total tonnage of barge shipments and receipts in the Twin Cities area for the 30 years from 1963-1992. Note, however, that volumes peaked in 1983 and 1984 and were followed by unprecedented declines in the late 80s. Annual movements in 1985 and later were sometimes less than 2/3 that of the peak. The remainder of this paper will review recent trends and identify contributing and/or confounding factors that should help answer these questions.

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