Boat strike causes oil spill, partial collapse of bridge between Galveston and Pelican Island, Texas

May 15, 2024 | blog

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GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A barge slammed right into a bridge pillar in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday, spilling oil into surrounding waters and shutting the one highway to a smaller and separate island that’s house to a college, officers mentioned. There have been no quick reviews of accidents, though officers mentioned one particular person on the barge was knocked into the water and shortly rescued.

The bridge that results in Pelican Island, north of Galveston, was struck by the barge round 9:50 a.m. when a tugboat backing out of Texas International Terminals, a gasoline storage operator subsequent to the bridge, misplaced management of two barges it was pushing, mentioned David Flores, a bridge superintendent with the Galveston County Navigation District.

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“The current was very bad, and the tide was high. He lost it,” Flores mentioned.

One of the barges hit the bridge and two phone poles, he mentioned.

The accident got here weeks after a cargo ship crashed right into a assist column of the Francis Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, killing six development staff.

The accident Wednesday knocked one man off the vessel and into the water, however he was shortly recovered and was not injured, mentioned Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Ray Nolen.

The tugboat was pushing bunker barges, that are gasoline barges for ships, Flores mentioned. The accident resulted in oil spilling from the barge into the bay and crews have been working to wash it up, he mentioned. The barge, which is owned by Martin Petroleum, has a 30,000-gallon capability, but it surely’s not clear how a lot leaked into the bay, mentioned Galveston County spokesperson Spencer Lewis. He mentioned about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) of the waterway was shut down because of the spill.

Pelican Island, which is related to Galveston by the bridge, is house to a big shipyard, Texas A&M University of Galveston, and Seawolf Park, a former immigration station that now attracts vacationers to its iconic fishing pier and decommissioned U.S. Navy vessels.

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Fire vans drove over the bridge as staff and legislation enforcement officers appeared on the remnants of the collapsed rail line. Aerial footage confirmed a big piece of damaged concrete and particles from the railroad hanging off the facet of the bridge and laying on the barge that officers mentioned rammed into the passageway.

Flores mentioned the rail line solely serves as safety for the construction and has by no means been used.

A press release posted on the City of Galveston’s Facebook web page mentioned there have been no reviews of accidents and that the island is at present inaccessible to automotive visitors.

“Engineers from the Texas Department of Transportation are also enroute to inspect the roadway and determine if there is damage,” the assertion mentioned. “The bridge will remain closed until it is deemed safe to use.”

One enterprise, Baywatch Dolphin Tours, mentioned they have been in search of the college’s approval to shuttle folks off the island and have been planning easy methods to present a long-term service whereas bridge repairs are underway.

Opened in 1960, the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge was rated as “Poor” in response to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2023 National Bridge Inventory launched final June.

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The total score of a bridge relies on whether or not the situation of any of its particular person parts — the deck, superstructure, substructure or culvert, if current — is rated poor or beneath.

In the case of the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge, inspectors rated the deck in “Satisfactory Condition,” the substructure in “Fair Condition” and the superstructure — or the element that absorbs the stay visitors load — in “Poor Condition.”

The bridge has one primary metal span that measures 164 toes (50 meters), and federal knowledge exhibits it was final inspected in December 2021. However, it’s unclear from the info if a state inspection passed off after the Federal Highway Administration compiled the info.

The bridge had a mean each day visitors determine of about 9,100, in response to a 2011 estimate.


Lozano reported from Houston. Associated Press reporters Christopher L. Keller in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas; Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas; and Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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