Barge Collides With Oklahoma Bridge, Forces Shutdown

Just a week after a cargo ship caused a fatal bridge collapse in Baltimore, a barge ran into an Oklahoma bridge. The massive vessel struck the structure spanning the Arkansas River Saturday afternoon, causing officials to close the bridge.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety, traffic was diverted from South U.S. Highway 59 to allow for a thorough inspection.

The Associated Press reported that it was not immediately clear what caused the dramatic collision. The bridge, which is at the entrance of the Kerr Reservoir, was able to reopen to traffic after an inspection that lasted several hours.

It was just days ago when a Colombian cargo ship rammed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. Six construction workers plunged to their deaths in the icy waters as the structure completely collapsed.

At the time of Saturday’s bridge collapse in Oklahoma, engineers were working in Maryland to lift the twisted steel remains of the structure. It fell onto the cargo ship and into the Patapsco River.

The early morning catastrophe in Baltimore came when eight construction workers were filling potholes on the structure. Two of the group were rescued, but the bodies of two more were recovered and the other four are presumed dead.

According to their employer, Brawner Builders, the men were working in the center of one of the bridge’s spans when it collapsed. Within seconds of the collision with the 985-foot long cargo ship, the structure was in the water.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Dali underwent “routine engine maintenance” while in the port. The vessel lost power multiple times before striking the bridge.

Experts explained that the bridge did not stand a chance against the tonnage of the vessel.

Virginia Tech engineering professor Roberto Leon told the Associated Press, “If a bridge pier without adequate protection is hit by a ship of this size, there is very little that the bridge can do.”

Preliminary indications are that the collision was a tragic accident. That investigation continues, as does the probe into the Oklahoma accident.