It has been a while since the Illinois River limited barge traffic due to freezing temperatures, but at long last we find ourselves preparing for the inevitable this week as artic temperatures sweep across the Midwest. The single digit temps are predicted to stick around until the end of February.

Several major barge carriers have already made announcements that they will be suspending transit on the Illinois for at least 1-2 weeks and predict tributaries through south central Missouri to be impacted by icy conditions as well. Shippers have already started reacting to these delays by rerouting barges further south or changing modes across various commodity groups from petrochemicals to steel goods. BL Duke Inc., scrap metal recycling and transload services provider in Chicago is prepared to wait out the river conditions and pivot its shipments to rail and truck.  “River closures, although infrequent, do occur.  We’re fortunate that we can also ship via truck and rail.” states Lou Plucinski, President.

“The big question is, will the reduced flows and river closures impact March scrap prices?”, asked Plucinski.  “With EAFs running at capacity supply is going to get tight.”