Officials have closed a stretch of the Mississippi River to towboats pushing barges under bridges after a towing vessel struck the Vicksburg Railroad Bridge for the second time in two days and the fifth time overall in a nine-day span.
The latest incident, on Thursday, involved the towing vessel Thomas Kay. One ethanol barge was damaged but another eighteen dry cargo barges were unscathed after the incident at the bridge in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
On Wednesday six barges broke free from the towboat Wally Roller before striking the same bridge.
Last week there were three consecutive days on which towboats or barges came into unintentional contact with the bridge. Those occasions were all attributed, at least partly, to high water levels and fast currents that followed storms and flooding in the US Midwest. The water level remains six feet higher than usual.
After Thursday’s impact a waterway restriction was issued by the Captain of the Port requiring towboats pushing barges to avoid passing under bridges from mile marker 363 near Natchez, Mississippi north to mile marker 438 near Vicksburg.
Traffic crossing the bridge had already been halted after Wednesday’s incident.
The US Coast Guard is investigating the causes of all five allisions.