Barges break free from tugboat, get stuck under Louisiana, Mo., railroad bridge

Posted: Jul. 22, 2014 8:28 pm Updated: Aug. 12, 2014 9:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

LOUISIANA, Mo. -- Five barges remain stuck under the Louisiana Railroad Drawbridge on the Mississippi River after a string of 15 barges broke loose from their tugboat Tuesday morning.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Carlos Vega said the barges separated from the boat, operated by Marquette Transportation Company out of Paducah, Ky., about 4:30 a.m. He said three passed under the bridge, but the remaining 12 barges bunched up at the bridge's turntable, the mechanism that rotates a section of the bridge for vessels to pass.

Seven of the barges have since been dislodged, and Vega said crews were removing them two at a time; however, he was unsure of how crews were removing the barges. No injuries have been reported, and Vega said the incident remains under investigation by the Coast Guard and the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Railroad operation was halted Tuesday morning, and river traffic was closed at 9:45 a.m. River traffic was expected to resume about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, and Vega said one vessel was waiting in queue.

In light of recent flooding, the National Weather Service reported Tuesday that the water level at Louisiana is 15.36 feet, while flood stage is 15 feet.

Marquette Transportation, founded in 1978, offers river, Gulf-inland and offshore marine transportation services.