Barge breakaway closes bridges in Pittsburgh

(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) — Six bridges in Pittsburgh that were closed after 12 barges hauling coal broke free early Monday on the Monongahela River have reopened, reported.

Strong currents caused the barges to break free from M/V Brenda L. Murray II, a towboat operated by Murray American Transportation, according to a statement from the company. All of the barges have been secured.

“We are working with the United States Coast Guard and other state and federal regulatory agencies to investigate this matter, and to determine the cause of the barge breakaway,” the statement said.

The incident was reported just before 5 a.m., when some of the barges being pushed by the towboat came loose around the area of the Liberty Bridge, according to Lt. Shawn Simeral of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Pittsburgh.

Of the 12 barges that broke free, 10 are now secured to moorings, Simeral said. The other two are secured at the Smithfield Street pier, though one is partially submerged.

Officials closed the McKees Rocks, West End, Fort Pitt, Liberty, Smithfield and Panhandle bridges as crews inspected them for damage.

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By Professional Mariner Staff