NewsBarge collision prompts bridge inspection on Interstate 59

Barge collision prompts bridge inspection on Interstate 59

A streak of bad luck in the USA. A barge hit a bridge in Oklahoma.
A streak of bad luck in the USA. A barge hit a bridge in Oklahoma.
Images source: © Facebook, OHP
3:38 AM EDT, March 31, 2024

Just a few days after a container ship collided with a bridge support in Baltimore, Maryland, a similar incident unfolded in Oklahoma. This time, a large barge struck a pillar of a bridge that is an integral part of Interstate 59, prompting an immediate shutdown of the bridge to traffic.

At approximately 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, a large barge navigating the Arkansas River veered off course and impacted a support column of a bridge. This bridge carries the Interstate 59, linking the northern and southern regions of the USA. Thankfully, the bridge's structure sustained the blow without significant damage.

The cause of the accident remains unknown at this time. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported from the incident; the only damage was to the barge itself. Nonetheless, authorities opted to close the bridge as a precaution.

Police quickly responded by shutting down this segment of the highway and directing traffic through alternative routes.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol stated that the bridge would stay closed until engineers from the Department of Transport could perform a thorough inspection. Their goal was to determine if the bridge's structure was compromised, potentially endangering those who use it.

After an extensive examination period, the bridge was deemed safe, and traffic flow was restored. The investigation confirmed that the bridge had not sustained any damage from the collision with the barge.

The critical state of U.S. bridges

The incident in Baltimore has sparked a nationwide interest in the condition of the approximately 600,000 bridges in the USA. These bridges undergo inspections at a minimum interval of every two years, during which their state is evaluated as either "good," "fair," or "poor." A "poor" rating indicates that certain structural elements are significantly deteriorated.

The American Society of Civil Engineers released a report in 2021 revealing that around 46,000 of the 617,000 bridges in the United States, or 7.5% of all bridges, are classified as structurally deficient and in poor condition.

About 21,000 of these bridges face increased risks due to foundational threats amplified by extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes, earthquakes, or severe temperature fluctuations.

Moreover, 17,000 bridges are at risk of collapse from a single potent impact, similar to the recent events in Baltimore.


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