Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Runaway Barge Collides With Busy Maryland Bridge

An runaway barge loaded with boulders drifted down a river and hit a highway bridge that had been hurriedly closed. No serious damage was reported. The barge came to rest between two piers of a bridge over the Severn River. Workers struggled in a stiff wind to secure the barge, and its owner finally towed it away. Police were alerted about the barge as it drifted downstream, and the six-lane U.S. 50 bridge was cleared of traffic by the time the vessel hit around midmorning. A two-lane bridge downriver was also closed for fear the barge could cause catastrophic damage.
U.S. 50 is a major highway leading to the state capital and the U.S. Naval Academy. It connects Washington, D.C., with Maryland's Eastern Shore. The only damage to the bridge was cosmetic, said Chuck Gischlar, spokesman for the State Highway Administration. The barge was loaded with riprap, or rocks used to prevent erosion. The Coast Guard was investigating how and where the barge broke loose.

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