Runaway barges lead to overnight closure of J.B. Bridge

The U.S. Coast Guard requested closure of the Jefferson Barracks Bridge as part of a shutdown of the river in that area early Sunday to inspect it for safety after high Mississippi River levels apparently caused at least 100 barges to break loose from secure transport and travel wildly toward the structure.

Four of the loose barges actually struck the side of the bridge. An engineering team was dispatched to the site to examine the soundness of the bridge following the incident.

The bridge was closed to traffic in all directions for inspection during the early morning hours on Sunday, with Interstate 255 traffic in Missouri and Illinois diverted. Lanes were gradually reopened one by one until all of them were back open around 8 a.m. Sunday.

Tow boats were used to move unsecured floating barges to the river bank or into fleeting areas, the Coast Guard said. No injuries have been reported.

As of around noon Sunday, the Coast Guard said it had rounded up all but 10 or so of the barges. Some of those may have sunk.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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