- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The city of Minneapolis tried for decades to become a major player in river commerce. But a federal decision to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock by next year means the dream is essentially dead.

Officials hope the closure will keep invasive carp from swimming upstream. However, it also means Minneapolis will no longer be a river terminal where cargo from the Midwest could be loaded onto barges and sent downstream, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (http://strib.mn/1wNP3iI ).

City officials have been trying to make Minneapolis a major port since the 1950s, with varying degrees of success.

First workers modified the Stone Arch Bridge so ships would have clearance. Then the $38 million lock system, the most expensive on the river at the time, was opened in 1963 at a ceremony that foreshadowed the futility of city officials’ hopes.

Politicians celebrated as a towboat pushed a barge through a red ribbon across the lock. But two hours later the barge was pushed back downstream to the Minnesota River, because Minneapolis didn’t have any place to unload the cargo.

The city continued developing its Upper Harbor Terminal in the 1960s and 1970s, when the main cargo included grain and cargo. Now the main traffic includes local barges that haul sand, gravel, fertilizer and scrap metal.

The Upper St. Anthony lock will remain operational for flood control but not for river traffic.

Greg Genz, the president of the Upper Mississippi Waterway Association, said he thinks the city could have saved its port if it really wanted to. He said the interests of riverfront real estate developers won out over the need to use the river for commerce.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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