Mississippi River bridge at Caruthersville hit by barge

Thursday, April 25, 2013 | 9:26 a.m. CDT; updated 10:32 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 25, 2013

CARUTHERSVILLE — For the second time in less than a week, a Mississippi River bridge has been struck by a barge.

The latest incident on the flooded river happened Thursday morning when a barge struck the bridge at Caruthersville. The bridge carries Interstate 155 traffic between southern Missouri and Tennessee.

Nichole Lawrence of the Tennessee Department of Transportation said one barge struck the bridge, forcing a temporary closure. An inspection showed no damage, and the bridge reopened within two hours. She did not have details on how the accident occurred.

Lt. Brian Gomez with the U.S. Coast Guard in Memphis, Tenn., said the bridge was hit by a barge being pushed by a towboat owned by Paducah, Ky.-based Marquette Transportation at about 5:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. The Tennessee Highway Patrol reported the bridge was re-opened shortly after 8 a.m.

Gomez said Corps of Engineers investigators were at the bridge Thursday morning. High water "will be taken into consideration," in the investigation, he said.

About 40 miles upriver, the Hickman-Dorena Ferry was closed Monday between Kentucky and the Missouri Bootheel when the river's gauge at Cairo, Ill., reached 44.5 feet.

On Saturday, 114 barges broke free from where they were docked near St. Louis, and four struck the Jefferson Barracks Bridge in St. Louis County. The bridge was closed temporarily and reopened after an inspection found no significant damage.

Significant flooding is making the river dangerous for recreational or commercial travel. The U.S. Coast Guard has closed most of the Mississippi between the Quad Cities and St. Louis due to the high, swift-moving water, and urged people to stay away from the water. Flooding causes the river to flow much more swiftly, and it is filled with debris, including large logs.

The flood forced closure of two Mississippi River bridges due to high water on the approaches — one at Quincy, Ill., and one at Louisiana, Mo. The Quincy bridge reopened Tuesday but the Louisiana bridge remains closed, though water is now receding at Louisiana.

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