Kayaks vie with barges for slice of urban rivers

AP News
Posted: Aug 14, 2013 1:56 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — After decades of heaping scorn and pollution on its river, Chicago is joining other cities around the country in a push to open urban waterways for kayaking and other recreational activities.

But the Chicago River is still an industrial highway for towboats and tugboats hauling cargo barges strung together in floating fortresses. The river is also home to a fleet of water taxis and tour boats.

Jason Neubauer is commanding officer of a Coast Guard unit that tries to keep the commercial and recreational traffic out of each other's way. He worries that the situation is "dodging a tragedy."

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Similar efforts to open urban waterways are taking shape in other cities, including New York and Grand Rapids, Mich.