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River bridges take yet another strike Monday; third strike this month

A northbound towboat pushing a 28-barge tow struck three piers on the old U.S. 80 bridge and three on the Interstate 20 bridge about 12:34 p.m. Monday, superintendent Herman Smith said.

He said the Motor Vessel Captain Buck Lay operated by American Commercial Barge Lines of Jeffersonville, Ind., was pushing a tow of 15 full and 13 empty barges that was seven barges long with four across.

Smith said the tow had passed the I-20 bridge when the current caught it and pushed into the old U.S. 80 bridge. The strike closed the bridge to rail traffic.

A video of the strike shows the tow clearing the I-20 bridge and passing under the old U.S. 80 bridge when the current caught it. As the fifth barge passes under the bridge, the current begins pushing the tow toward the Mississippi shore.

The tow initially struck pier 4 of the U. S. 80 bridge then slid sideways, striking piers 2 and 3 simultaneously and breaking apart. The barges drifted south, striking piers W-1, E-1 and E-2 on the I-20 bridge. None of the barges sank, Smith said.

Monday’s barge strike is the third time one or both of the river bridges have been struck in April.

April 14, the light mast of the Motor Vessel Crimson Duke pushing a 24-barge two struck the underside of the I-20 bridge. The incident forced Louisiana State Police to close the westbound lane of the bridge until it was inspected by engineers.

April 11, the Motor Vessel Blake Benton, operated by Marquette Transportation of Paducah, Ky., pushing a southbound 25-barge tow struck pier 4 on the old Highway 80 bridge.

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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