Current blamed when 28-barge tow breaks free between piers 4 and 5

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Boats from Ergon Marine Tuesday afternoon were still corralling barges that broke free after a northbound tow struck two piers on the old U.S. 80 bridge early Tuesday.

The strike occurred about 5 a.m. Tuesday.

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Bridge superintendent Herman Smith said the motor vessel Michael G. Morris was northbound between piers 4 and 5 when the river’s current pinned the tow against pier 4, causing the 28-barge tow to break.

Sixteen of the barges broke off and swung around to strike pier 3. Smith said most of the barges in the tow were empty, but did not know what the other barges were carrying.

He said a crew of inspectors examined piers 3, 4 and 5 for damage, adding, “We know there was a scrape, because we could see the sparks on the video.”

Smith said the piers had some scratch marks but were otherwise not adversely affected by the strike.

The wreck temporarily closed the bridge to rail traffic and the river to boat traffic. Smith said the bridge reopened to trains about 9:30 a.m.

Lt. Bryana Nicholas, spokeswoman for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Section Lower Mississippi River office in Memphis, Tennessee, said the river was later reopened to all traffic.

“We have investigators on scene to see if there was any potential damage to the barges, and they will investigate the bridge strike,” she said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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