CREVE COEUR, Ill. — Towboats are a vital means of transporting important products up and down the Illinois River.
Improvements along the Illinois River may be needed to ease the job.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) mentioned the need to lengthen the locks and explained how doing so would save time and effort for barges to get through them. She also mentioned the wear and tare on the dams and structures due for upgrades.
Even though Bustos was on the barge for business, she had fun driving the boat.
“I knew the captain was right next to me, I was a little nervous when he said he was going to take a break, but then he winked and said he was just kidding,” said Bustos. “No, I’ve been everything from a car repair woman, to a welder, to a carp processor out of the Mississippi.”
She learned from crews what they go through while out on the river.
“My takeaway is just how hard people work, and how tough some of their jobs are. You think about the crew here, they are on for 28 days, and then they are off for 28 days. While that time off sounds appealing, for 28 days they are away from their kids, away from their spouses,” Bustos said.
The chief legal officer of the barge company says a total closure of the river is expected in 2020.
That could last anywhere from three to four months.