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Sunshine Bridge Struck by Vessel, Again

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

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Late last week, yet another vessel struck St. James Parish, Louisiana’s Sunshine Bridge, which prompted a closure to evaluate the integrity of the structure. An investigation into the incident has since been launched.

According to news station WAFB 9, the bridge was struck around 1:30 p.m. Sunday (June 16), reopening around two hours later.

Previous Incident

On Oct. 12, a barge-mounted crane struck the metal cantilever truss bridge, which runs across the Mississippi River. Reports alleged that the crane was in the upright position, violating the river’s safety rules. Key load-bearing components along the southwest side of the bridge suffered significant damage from the impact, and repairs were slated to take months, rather than days. Marquette Transportation was operating the tugboat, named Kristine Alexis.

The mile-and-a-half-long bridge is a vital connection for locals; in 2015, the Sunshine Bridge carried 23,000 vehicles a day. According to Bridgehunter, the Sunshine Bridge was built in 1963, opened in 1964 and is now eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Marquette, the company responsible for operating the barge, had reportedly been involved in 27 other bridge accidents within the past five years.

In January, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announced that repairs to the bridge had entered a stage that included the completion of fabrication of the new diagonal bracing was complete, along with additional work repairing cracked welds on the bridge deck.

Vessel Impact

The bridge was struck by the tanker ship, known as Dank Silver, an event confirmed by the Coast Guard. (The vessel is owned by Dank Silver Maritime Transportation Company Limited.) On top of this, the structure was shut down for further inspection.

DOTD spokesperson Rodney Mallett noted that the ship struck the fender system that serves to protect the bridge. (Fenders serve to safeguard piers from water traffic.) No structural damage was found. As for the ship, it is currently being examined for damage at Grande View Anchorage.

Mallet also emphasized that this incident is very different from what happened in October: The previous incident damaged the bridge’s substructure, whereas this time only a fender was damaged. He also made note of how much water traffic there is, and how often boats actually strike bridges; the structures themselves are designed to handle this kind of damage.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

Comment from Scott Youngs, (6/24/2019, 11:06 AM)

Somebody needs to remove the neon "Hit Me" sign of off of that bridge...

Comment from William Feliciano, (6/25/2019, 8:15 AM)

The company that owned the barge that hit the bridge in October had a record of hitting 27 other bridge hits in the past 5 years...what the...

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (6/25/2019, 11:58 AM)

Hehehe....Scott, I think someone needs to add a neon "Danger: Bridge!!" sign. William, perhaps they need glasses for their pilots / captains...ones with actual lenses ;)

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