The Coast Guard yesterday opened the Houston Ship Channel at the I-10 San Jacinto River Bridge near Channelview, Texas, but with restrictions, and said that it continues to work with the Texas Department of Transportation as it conducts repairs of the bridge that affect the navigational safety of the waterway.
The bridge was damaged in an incident that began 12:05 a.m., September 20 when USCG Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders received a report that nine barges had broken away from their moorings at the San Jacinto River Fleet, north of the bridge.
An Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew and a Station Houston 29-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew were diverted to the scene.
Sector Houston-Galveston Vessel Traffic Service had already suspended vessel movement under the I-10 bridge at 7:20 p.m. the previous day due to strong currents.
A unified command was set up in response to the incident, consisting of the Coast Guard, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas General Land Office, and Canal Barge Company.
Two of the nine barges had become lodged under the bridge. By the afternoon of September 20, evening six of the others were described as “corralled for transport to fleet areas,” with the remaining barge being beached on a mud flat north of the bridge.
On September 22, the Coast Guard released video showing the removal of the second of the two barges that had gotten wedged under the bridge being released.
As of 11.49 a.m. today, the Captain of the Port Houston-Galveston established a safety zone on the San Jacinto River from the southern end of Southwest Shipyard, extending north of the I-10 bridge to Buoy 4. Transiting the safety zone is open to limited vessel traffic with the following restrictions:
- Only light boats and single barge tows may transit.
- Transit only during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset).
- No meeting or overtaking.
All vessels must check in and out with Vessel Traffic Service Houston-Galveston at least 15 minutes prior to getting underway.
Sector Houston-Galveston Waterways Management Division will issue future updates via Marine Safety Information Bulletins and broadcast notice to mariners. Vessel Traffic Service Houston-Galveston will direct short term closures of the waterway to support salvage and over-water bridge repairs.