Barge Slams Into Texas Bridge, Causing Partial Collapse

By Bill Galluccio

May 15, 2024

Houston Chronicle
Photo: Hearst Newspapers

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway has been shut down after a barge slammed into a bridge near Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday (May 15), causing it to partially collapse.

The Pelican Island Bridge connects Galveston to the Pelican Island and is the only way on or off the island. Pelican Island is home to Texas A&M University Galveston, which briefly lost power after the collision

Authorities are working on plans to evacuate everybody on the island. 

In addition to the bridge collapse, officials are also trying to contain a large oil spill caused by the collision. The barge was reportedly leaking vacuum oil gas. It can hold up to 30,000 gallons, but officials do not know how much the barge was carrying.

The Galveston County Sheriff's Office said a tugboat was backing out of Texas International Terminals when it lost control of the two barges it was towing. One of the barges struck a pair of telephones before slamming into the bridge and sending part of the railroad track into the water.

“The current was very bad, and the tide was high. He lost it,” said David Flores, a bridge superintendent with the Galveston County Navigation District.

There were two crew members on the ship, and they were both safe after being pulled from the water.

Inspectors from the Texas Department of Transportation are on-site to assess the damage to the bridge. 

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