Towboat damages bridge fender, restricting Intracoastal Waterway

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The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(LAKE CHARLES, La.) — The Coast Guard removed restrictions for Intracoastal Waterway traffic near the Black Bayou Bridge in Lake Charles on Wednesday. The waterway was restricted when a part of the bridge's fendering system was struck by a tug that lost steering with three barges Monday night.

The bridge and waterway opened to all highway and vessel traffic at 12:26 p.m. Wednesday.

At 10:27 p.m. Monday night, the bridge operator notified the Coast Guard that a towboat was pushing three hopper barges and struck the fendering wall that protects the pontoon bridge crossing the waterway. The Coast Guard captain of the port in Port Arthur, Texas, established a safety zone at the bridge to restrict marine traffic while a salvage barge worked to schedule removal of the debris.

The Intracoastal Waterway is a busy waterway and it didn't take long for a backlog of inland towing vessels to build on both sides of the bridge. The Coast Guard worked with stakeholders to begin moving limited traffic through the bridge Tuesday while awaiting salvage equipment to arrive Wednesday morning. Overnight nearly half of the delayed tow traffic had safely passed through the area. The bridge was closed to all traffic for several hours while salvage crews removed the damaged fendering wall.

By Professional Mariner Staff