Galveston Barge Collision Collapses Pelican Island Bridge

This morning, a barge collided with the Seawolf Parkway Bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican Island via the Pelican Island Causeway, causing it to partially collapse. As of this writing, a single lane of the bridge remains open, but Pelican Island remains temporarily inaccessible by vehicle for as long as the Pelican Island Causeway remains closed.

Galveston officials say no one was injured, despite two crew members briefly falling overboard. They were promptly rescued. However, there is a looming threat of ecological damage—the barge started leaking vacuum gas oil due to the collision, and it’s not known how much of its 30,000-gallon capacity was full when it crashed. The Coast Guard is currently monitoring the extent of the spill and taking steps to contain it.

Officials from the city of Galveston, Texas A&M, and the Texas Department of Transportation are currently managing the situation. Officials have closed the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Pelican Island Causeway.

Bridge Overdue for Replacement

The Seawolf Parkway Bridge was supposed to be replaced imminently, with construction set to begin next year. The project overview, which is available on the Texas DOT website, says that the bridge was in such a deteriorated state that “any additional deterioration could result in sudden bridge closure,” which is what came to pass.

The Seawolf Parkway Bridge is a lift bridge, which raises the obvious question: what caused the barge collision?

Officials haven’t made any potential causes pubic, but we’ve recently written about how bunkering fraud has led to catastrophic power loss on shipping vessels. If this barge vessel was running on bunker, engine failure isn’t out of the question. On the other hand, we’ve also written about barge accidents in the past—particularly how barge maintenance often puts workers and the public at risk.

Our bridge collapse attorneys will be staying on top of developments as they’re made public.

Offshore/Maritime Injuries
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