The US coastguard has reopened a section of the Mississippi River that had been closed for several days due to a large crack in a bridge, World Grain reported on 17 May.

More than 700 barges had been stranded during the closure of the section near the Tennessee-Arkansas border, which had cut off the main route for US agricultural exports during a busy period of the shipping season, the report said.

The New Orleans Port Region moves approximately 50% of agricultural exports each year, including soyabeans, corn and rice, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Prior to the reopening on 14 May, reports by the US Coastguard had said that 39 northbound vessels carrying nearly 1,000 barges and 28 southbound vessels with nearly 500 barges had been halted due to safety concerns, World Grain wrote.

The reopening followed analysis by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which showed that barge traffic would be safe if vehicles were not allowed on the bridge, the report said.

The Hernando de Soto Bridge carries the Interstate 40 highway across the Mississippi River between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas.