The Mississippi River has crested at St. Louis and is beginning its descent.

The river reached 35.5 feet — 5.5 feet above flood stage — at a gauge near the Gateway Arch early Thursday but had fallen about a half-foot by midday.

The river continues falling north of St. Louis, but crests are still a day or two away to the south. Cape Girardeau, Mo., was bracing for a crest 10 feet above flood stage on Friday.

The biggest problem Thursday occurred in far southern Missouri, when a barge struck the Interstate 155 bridge at Caruthersville. The bridge between Missouri and Tennessee was closed for nearly two hours for inspection. No significant damage was found.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended recreational boating over much of the Illinois and Missouri rivers.