HASTINGS, Minn. (April 21, 2014) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District welcomed the first line tow of the 2014 navigation season to St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday.

Corps lock operators locked the Motor Vessel Angela K through Lock and Dam 2, near Hastings, around 5 p.m., with 12 barges.

Col. Dan Koprowski, St. Paul District commander, said the first lock to reach St. Paul signifies the unofficial start of spring for the Upper Midwest. With the arrival of the first tow to Lock and Dam 2, all 13 locks and dams along the Mississippi River within the St. Paul District boundaries are now accessible to both commercial and recreation vessels.

Kristin Moe, St. Paul District Mississippi River program analyst, said the arrival of the M/V Angela K is the latest non-floods related start to navigation in St. Paul since 1970. She said March 22 is the average start to navigation in St. Paul.

While the start to the navigation season is more than three weeks later than average, Koprowski said the inland navigation system is in many ways a national treasure.

"It moves goods and services in a much more economical and environmentally friendly and sustainable way," he said, adding that more that 11 million tons of commodities were moved within the district during the 2013 navigation season.

Koprowski said that while navigation system is one of the primary missions for the St. Paul District, the Mississippi River adds a lot in terms of economic value to the region. He said the 13 locks and dams from Minneapolis to Lock and Dam 10 in Guttenberg, Iowa, provide an important resource to the communities along the river.

"It's a commercial resource. It's a recreational resource. It provides an enormous economic benefit, but it's also a quality of life issue," he said. "The river is an important part of people's lives here on the Upper Mississippi and our locks and dams are a part of that."

Page last updated Tue April 22nd, 2014 at 07:16