Mississippi River, Other U.S. Waterways Provide Efficient, Yet Underutilized, Transportation Avenue Jul 25, 2016 - For centuries, the Mississippi River and its tributaries have flowed south to the Gulf of Mexico providing residents along its banks a source of transportation, food and recreation. But when people talk about the nation’s primary river system, they discuss its effect on the nation’s history and the floods that spilled over its banks, putting thousands and millions of acres of homes and farmlands under water. They talk about the era of the flatboats and the steamboats that plied the river shipping goods north and south for consumers of factories. They don’t discuss why the nation’s first and largest super highway remains underutilized by companies moving goods from a northern factory south. According to statistics by the American Waterways Operators and the Waterways Council, 4 percent — about 604 tons — of the total cargo moved inland during 2014, the most recent year for statistics, was moved by barge along the nation’s inland waterways.
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