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St. Louis - AP - Dredging operations in the middle Mississippi River are finished for the winter.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been using two dredges, one from Memphis, Tenn., the other from St. Louis, to help keep the river channel clear. The work has been especially important this winter because the river level has been near historic lows, threatening barge traffic.

The corps says the dredges need seasonal maintenance, and crews are due for time off. The dredging season normally ends in November but was extended in the so-far successful fight to keep the river open.

The two dredges removed more than 8 million cubic yards of sediment in the last six months in the area between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill. The corps says that is more than twice the normal amount.
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