Traffic nightmare after barge collision at I-10 bridge

Jessica Willey Image
Saturday, September 21, 2019
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Barge collision at I-10 causes hours of traffic delays

The I-10 closure due to the barge collision at the San Jacinto River bridge is causing serious traffic issues.

"It was a pretty harrowing situation," said Joanna Natale, who expected her alternate route along Hwy 90E to be slow but never as slow as it was.

Her destination was New Orleans from Atascocita. Twenty miles outside Nome, Texas on the Liberty/Jefferson County line, she hit a major slowdown.

"And we did not move again for six hours and 45 minutes," Natale said. "It took me 20 miles to get through Nome and at Nome there was high water, so the traffic was going very very slow."

Natale was among the thousands of cars and trucks taking alternate routes to get around the San Jacinto River bridge. I-10 is shut down eastbound at Magnolia and westbound at Crosby-Lynchburg after at least two barges crashed into the bridge during the heavy rainfall.

Nine barges in all broke free from their moorings just after midnight Friday. Four of them are owned by the Canal Barge Company.

"Let me begin by saying how we regret this incident occurred last night and how strongly committed we are to working side-by-side with the many federal, state and local agencies and other personnel who are engaged in mitigating this incident," said Joe Tyson, senior vice president of operation for Canal Barge Company.

Nearby residents, like those who live in West Meadows, are frustrated, too. Once again, they say, they are directly impacted by detours due to a bridge issue.

"Now we're mainly concerned with all the traffic backed up. With all the roads shut. How are they going to get out here to service us between law enforcement, EMS, fire," said resident David Schaffer.

First, the barges must be removed, says TXDOT. Then, the river must calm down before a full damage assessment can be done.

The water is still too high and flowing too fast for divers to inspect what is not obvious. Officials have no timetable for repairs.

Natale is glad it's all behind her. Her six-hour car ride became twice as long.

"I could have driven to California probably by now," she said with a smile.

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