Durbin assesses Miss. River rock-removal effort

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THEBES, Ill. (AP) -- Two federal lawmakers from Illinois got a firsthand look at urgent efforts to clear the Mississippi River bedrock that's crimping shipping and say they're closely monitoring the situation on the waterway.

Sen. Dick Durbin and newly elected Congressman Bill Enyart were briefed Monday about the work near Thebes by Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard officials and toured the site by boat.

Durbin says "Mother Nature has dealt us a difficult hand" with a lingering drought that's dropped the Mississippi's depths. Enyart says he's "deeply concerned" about the economic implications of the shallower river.

The rock-clearing effort is considered vital in ensuring that stretch of river remains open to barge traffic.

Barge industry trade groups have expressed concern further restrictions on barge weights could halt shipping on the river.

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