Mississippi River reopens after barges hit JB Bridge


by KMOV.com staff


Posted on April 22, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 9:02 PM

(KMOV.com) -- The Coast Guard announced just before 4 p.m. Monday the Mississippi River was reopened following a string of runaway barges.

Authorities said all but one of the barges are out of the navigation channel, and the remaining vessel was under 40 feet of water and should not pose a threat to other boats.

The section of the Mississippi River was initially closed around 10:30 p.m. Saturday after more than 114 barges broke free of their moorings.

The Coast Guard says three others had been nudged against the river bank and the remaining barges have been rounded up. Of the 114 barges that broke free, 11 of them sank.

The barges were being pushed by the boat Captain Buck Lay, which the Coast Guard says is owned by Memco Barge Line Inc.

According to the Coast Guard, the barges were floating freely and posed “immediate danger” to facilities and bridges near St. Louis.

One of barges reportedly sank near the navigation channel at mile marker 166 near Cliff Cave Park.

The Coast Guard said all of the tank barges with hazardous cargo were successfully recovered.

During the breakaway, the Jefferson Barracks Bridge was struck at least four times. MoDOT workers reportedly feared that parts of the sunken barges could break apart and threaten the safety of the bridge.

“They had the bridge closed while the barges were going through,” said a MoDOT engineer. “We looked all around to make sure that there are no barges hung up on the substructure.”

The Coast Guard closed the river from mile marker 170 to 155 to protect navigation and public safety. Officials said mariners are prohibited from entering into, departing from, or moving within the safety zone unless authorized by the Coast Guard.

MoDOT also temporarily closed the Jefferson Barracks Bridge around 2 a.m. Sunday for inspection. All lanes on the Jefferson Barracks Bridge were reopened around 8 a.m.

“Working to ensure the safety of life is paramount,” said Scott Stoermer with the Coast Guard. “High water conditions, like those St. Louis is experiencing now, can pose a significant and very dynamic risk.”