MASON/POMEROY — The Bridge of Honor (Pomeroy-Mason Bridge) has reopened following an inspection by the West Virginia Department of Highways bridge inspection crew.
According to the Pomeroy Volunteer Fire Department, the inspection was completed and the bridge reopened to traffic by 2:15 a.m. on Friday.
Brent Walker, spokesperson with the West Virginia Division of Highways, stated the West Virginia Department of Transportation Management Center (TMC) received a call at 8:56 p.m. Thursday from Mason County 911 to say there were multiple barges loose on the Ohio River and that authorities had closed the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge in Mason County. At 9:13 p.m., Mason County Emergency Management phoned the TMC to report that at least one of the barges had struck one of the concrete piers.
The bridge was closed to traffic until an inspection could be conducted by DOH personnel.
Following the bridge reopening to traffic early Friday morning, Walker released the following statement concerning the inspection findings: “After hearing that a pier on the Pomeroy-Mason/Bridge of Honor bridge in Mason County, had been struck by a loose barge, State Bridge Engineer, Tracy Brown, and a team from the WV Division of Highways Bridge Department, visually inspected the reinforced concrete tower that was believed to have been hit. In addition to looking for visible structural damage and misalignment of the tower, the team also inspected the bearings at the tower that support the superstructure to ensure nothing was out of alignment. The DOH team concluded there was no structural damage from the barge strike.”
As previously reported, around 9 p.m. Thursday evening, multiple, loose barges were floating in the Ohio River in the Bend Area.
According to a statement from Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood, Meigs County EMS and Pomeroy Fire Department personnel advised that a pier on the Ohio side of the Bridge of Honor was hit. The U.S. Coast Guard was contacted as well as the WVDOH.
Wood further stated he had been advised approximately 15 barges were originally loose in the river and they contained fracking sand.
After most of the barges were secured, reportedly as many as four to six were still loose. Around 10:30 p.m. a tugboat at West Columbia, W.Va. was attempting to catch loose barges, according to the Mason County Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Around 11:20 p.m. it was confirmed all the loose barges were secured and accounted for though it remained unclear where exactly they originated from, how they became loose, where they were secured and by whom. Ohio Valley Publishing has been in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard for more details on the matter but as of press time, that information was still forthcoming.
There were no other bridge closures as a result of this incident.
Multiple first responders from both Ohio and West Virginia responded to assist as did those in the maritime industry.
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Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing. Sarah Hawley is managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.