Two Pittsburgh bridges closed after 26 barges break loose on Ohio River
04/17/2024 // Richard Brown // Views

After more than two dozen barges broke loose on the Ohio River late Friday, April 12, Pittsburgh officials took swift action and closed two bridges as a precautionary measure.

City responders were alerted around 11:30 p.m. to the situation, involving 26 barges drifting downriver. Twenty-three of the barges were carrying cargoes like coal and fertilizer, while the other three were empty, as stated by the Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety and U.S. Coast Guard officials in a news release. (Related: Cargo ship that hit Baltimore Bridge was also involved in Belgium collision in 2016.)

One coal-laden barge is still missing and presumed to have sunk due to flooding.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District indicated that search operations would commence once river conditions improve. Safety remains paramount in these recovery efforts, as emphasized by Carol Vernon, a spokesperson for the Corps.

Fortunately, there have been no reports of barge collisions with bridges or pollution thus far, ensuring the safety of mariners navigating the area. However, cautionary measures remain in place until all barges are accounted for and water levels recede, according to Lt. Eyobe Mills of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Despite the absence of injuries, Peggy's Harbor sustained substantial damage, prompting temporary closures of the rail bridge to Brunot Island and the McKees Rocks Bridge. Both bridges have since reopened, alleviating traffic concerns in the affected areas.

As recovery operations progress, the Army Corps of Engineers is conducting facility inspections to assess damage and ensure the safety of personnel and barge crews.

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The recent bridge closures echo heightened concerns about infrastructure safety following a recent bridge collapse near Baltimore, underscoring the importance of swift and effective response measures in safeguarding communities.

Of the barges involved, 11 have been located and secured along the riverbank, while efforts continue to retrieve the remaining vessels.

Challenges persist, with nine barges negotiating the Emsworth Dam and four navigating beyond the Dashields Dam. The whereabouts of one barge remain unknown, raising concerns among authorities.

The cause of the barges breaking loose remains under investigation, with factors such as high water levels likely playing a significant role, as suggested by the Army Corps.

More and more bridges at risk due to ship collisions

In a statement, police emphasized the potential risk posed by the drifting barges to sub-structures along the river. They urged the public to steer clear of the affected area until further notice, prioritizing safety amid the unfolding situation.

This incident occurred in the wake of another recent bridge mishap, where the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed following a collision with a container ship named the Dali, flying the Singaporean flag.

The vessel struck a support column on the bridge roughly 20 minutes into its journey.

As recovery efforts continue, divers have retrieved three bodies from the submerged wreckage, while three individuals remain missing. Crews are diligently working to extract sections of the collapsed bridge, including those entangled in the muddy depths of the Patapsco River.

Watch this clip of a barge hitting the U.S. 59 Bridge over the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.

This video is from the Cynthia's Pursuit of Truth channel on

More related stories:

Another container ship "loses power" in NYC harbor right before Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

Rebuilding Francis Scott Key Bridge could cost $1 billion and take 10 years.

Baltimore bridge ship crash fatalities: 2 confirmed dead, 4 still missing.

Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse an "absolutely brilliant strategic attack," say multiple intel sources.

Baltimore bridge collapse due to ship strike will have sweeping economic repercussions.

Sources include:

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