Towboat, barges strike bridge at Vicksburg; one barge sinks

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(VICKSBURG, Miss.) — The Coast Guard has approved a salvage plan, Friday, to remove a soybean barge that partially sank after a towing vessel allided with the Old Vicksburg Bridge on the Mississippi River.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Vicksburg received a report that the towing vessel, Kay A. Eckstein, allided with the Old Vicksburg Bridge, causing the barges being pushed by the towing vessel to come free. One barge allided with the I-20 bridge, partially sank, and is considered a hazard to navigation.
The Coast Guard is enforcing a safety zone that spans five miles on either side of the I-20 bridge, from mile marker 430 to mile marker 440 on the Mississippi River.
Northbound river traffic is permitted to transit upon contacting the Vicksburg Information Center via VHF channel 88 or by telephone at 601-636-5516. However, southbound river traffic is restricted at this time and there is currently a queue of 37 vessels awaiting transit southbound.
“Based on survey instrumentation results and visual observation, the bridge shows no sign of excessive structure stresses,” said Kirk Gallien, a representative from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
The LADOTD also stated that they would not be closing the I-20 bridge to vehicle traffic during the salvage operations, which is anticipated to begin as early as Friday afternoon.

“There has been excellent cooperation between the Coast Guard, Louisiana and Mississippi Departments of Transportation, local law enforcement agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the marine industry,” said Cmdr. Scott Anderson, deputy commander of Sector Lower Mississippi River. “Everyone is working together to re-open the river to commerce as safely and quickly as possible.”

There are no reported injuries or pollution.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the incident.
By Professional Mariner Staff