Barge HitsBridge

Star City Span Closed as a Precaution

Morgantown Dominion Post
14 August 2013

By Alex Lang

Crew members of the CONSOL tugboat Gabriel push the runaway barge against piers at the Humphrey coal loading dock after capturing it on the Monongahela River. Bob Gay / Dominion Post

The Star City bridge was shut down Tuesday night. A runaway barge collided with its base along the Monongahela River, taking out a section of concrete.

The bridge remained closed as of 9 p.m. as crews waited for Department of Transportation inspectors to give the OK for motorists to cross. Granville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Butch Renner said the decision was a safety precaution.

Granville Police Chief Craig Corkrean said he was on a Granville law enforcement boat that had chased down and tied up with the barge before it collided with the bridge.

“A big boom,” is how Corkrean described the sound of the collision.

The barge was moving at about 2 knots and was too big for Granville’s boat to slow its momentum, Corkrean said. Two knots translates to just more than 2 miles per hour.

“It was moving fast,” he said.

A 4-foot slab of concrete knocked off the base of the bridge, Corkrean said.

Renner said the barge came from an area near Morgantown’s border with the river. He said it was tied off to the side of the waterway, and the rising water level likely caused it to break off and float down the river. The barge was first reported to MECCA 911 at about 7:15 p.m.

The barge was carrying gravel. Renner said it typically holds up to 990 tons of material. It was unclear who owned the barge as of press time.

A CONSOL tugboat was able to corral the barge and bring it to the riverbank about a half-mile from the bridge, Renner said.

Corkrean said his officers, along with Star City and other law enforcement would block the bridge from vehicular traffic throughout the night until it was deemed safe.

In lieu of the bridge, alternative routes include the interstates, as well as roads in Westover, Granville and Scotts Run.