Tenn-Tom Waterway seeing more traffic

By The Associated Press

COLUMBUS — With flooding along the Mississippi River, transportation on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway has picked up in some areas.

“We’ve just seen a very small increase,” Allan Brewer, chief of navigation for the waterway, tells WTVA-TV.

“We normally have boats that run back up us pushing empties that have come down the Mississippi loaded. That’s part of our normal traffic, and we’ve just seen a small increase of that.”

Brewer said the additional traffic is not a problem for the route that runs through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.

“We can accommodate the traffic that is over here,” said Brewer. “It would result in some minor waits through the locks.”

Another impact as a result of a slight increase of traffic on the waterway is the economic boost for places like the Columbus Marina and for the area itself.

“They buy their supplies here,” said T. Caldwell, the marina’s general manager. “This is one of the bigger stops here on the Tenn-Tom Waterway. They go out to eat. They do sightseeing.”

If the water level of Mississippi River continues to rise in some areas, there’s a chance the Tenn-Tom Waterway would see an increase in other kinds of traffic.

“If it continued for a length — and were talking several weeks — then we would probably see more traffic being diverted and going over onto us,” Brewer said.

He said the last time the Tenn-Tom Waterway saw a huge increase in traffic came in 1988 when the Mississippi River was plagued with drought conditions.

The Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway is a 234-mile manmade shipping channel that connects the Tombigbee and Tennessee rivers. It offers access to inland ports in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.