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Tags: pelican island | galveston | texas | bridge | barge

Aging Texas Bridge Closed After Barge Strike

By    |   Wednesday, 15 May 2024 01:52 PM EDT

The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway on Wednesday to deal with an oil spill coming from a barge that broke loose in Texas and hit the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge linking Pelican Island to Galveston, causing a piece of the structure to fall.

According to the Galveston County Sheriff's Office, the bridge, which is the only way on and off the island, was closed to vehicular traffic after it was hit at about 10 a.m. local time, Houston's ABC13 reported.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said that the barge hit a side of the bridge that had been used for railroad traffic and that the rail portion had not been in use.

Henry told ABC that officials believe two of the ship's crew members either jumped off or were thrown off, but both were recovered quickly. No injuries were reported. 

The hit caused vacuum oil gas to leak from the barge, which has a reported capacity of 30,000 gallons, but it was not known immediately how much it was carrying. The Coast Guard is investigating the oil spill and ways to contain it.

The strike also caused an initial power outage on Pelican Island, home to Texas A&M University Galveston. However, the island switched to secondary power, said Henry. 

Pelican Island also houses several tourist attractions, including the Galveston Naval Museum, and Seawolf Park, along with port industries. 

City of Galveston spokeswoman Marissa Barnett told The Houston Chronicle that the city's emergency management office, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Texas Department of Transportation were investigating the crash.

David Flores, a navigation district bridge operator who was on the causeway when the barge hit it, said it appeared the barge got caught in a current that pulled it away from a tug boat.

"I've been on the waterfront for 43 years and this is the worst accident I've seen," he commented. "This is a pretty bad one."

Galveston leaders have been looking to replace the 64-year-old bridge for at least a decade, with the state transportation department saying it has reached the end of its structural life.

Flores told the Chronicle that the barge strike is the second in less than a year, with repairs from the previous strike only being recently finished.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway on Wednesday to deal with an oil spill coming from a barge that broke loose in Texas and hit the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge linking Pelican Island to Galveston, causing a piece of the structure to fall.
pelican island, galveston, texas, bridge, barge
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2024-52-15
Wednesday, 15 May 2024 01:52 PM
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