The news has been full of talks about bridges and ships following the horrific incident in Baltimore, Maryland. Those that don't live along bodies of water or rivers where goods are transported on barges and cargo ships, it might seem a little taboo.

Living here in the Quad Cities, we know the importance the Mississippi River plays in commerce and the American economy. Engineers and agencies do a spectacular job of making sure barges move up and down the Mississippi River as smoothly as possible.

attachment-Mississippi River Barge (1)

But how many barges and ships do we see in a year in the Quad Cities? How much cargo is actually moved up and down the Mississippi River through our community? The answer might surprise you.

Baltimore Bridge Collapses Following Collision With Cargo Ship

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship
Getty Images
Dali slammed into the pillar

According to WBAL, two people were rescued following the collapse of the bridge. 6 people are presumed dead.

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses After Being Struck By Cargo Ship
Getty Images

With the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the water, that port and the car and coal economy will be hurting. That port is one of the nation's busiest ports and ranks first in the volume of automobiles and light trucks. Baltimore is a huge shipping destination for automobiles and coal, according to the New York Times.

A Lot Of Cargo Passes Through The Quad Cities

We also have a lot of cargo and goods that pass through the Quad Cities. In the metro, we have 5 bridges, including the new I-74 bridge. With the amount of bridges we have in the Quad Cities and the number of locks and dams we have, it would be devastating if what happened in Maryland happened in the Quad Cities.

Google View
Google View

Since Lock and Dam 15 at the Rock Island Arsenal is in the heart of the Quad Cities, it's easiest to find data about how many ships pass through there in a year and the amount of goods in tons that pass with it.

The most recent data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is from 2022. According to that report, Lock and Dam 15 saw 14,536,910 tons of goods pass through. Most of those barges were carrying food and farm products which made up 7,358,400 tons. 2022 was a low year. In 2015 and 2016, more than 23 million tons of goods passed through the Quad Cities. In 2020, it was over 21 million tons.

attachment-Mississippi River Barge (2)

How many barges and ships car over 14 million tons of goods? 10,000 loaded barges passed through and over 3,000 empty barges passed through. Here is the data from the report:

  • Vessel & Lockage Data (2021)
    • Average Delay - Tows (Hours) 1.63
    • Barges Empty 3,726
    • Barges Loaded 10,000
    • Commercial Vessels 1,732
    • Commercial Lockages 2,513
    • Other Vessels 33
    • Other Lockages 31
    • Recreational Vessels 1,099
    • Recreational Lockages 261
    • Total Vessels 2,864
    • Total Lockages 2,805

Needless to say, we hope the captains of these barges and their crews continue navigating the Mississippi River as they have been.

Our thoughts are with the victims of the bridge collapse in Baltimore and their families.

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