MASON/POMEROY — The Bridge of Honor (Pomeroy-Mason Bridge) remains closed until a bridge inspection team can arrive to examine the structure reportedly struck by at least one runaway barge Thursday evening.
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 statement added, “WV State Bridge Engineer, Tracy Brown, and a bridge inspection team are en route to confirm the barge strike and assess any damage. The structure will not re-open until bridge crews are able to complete their inspections. Due to the river’s swift current, a full assessment may not be possible until daylight.”
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 West Virginia Division of Highways.
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 tug boat at West Columbia 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 were secured and by whom.
There were not 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, reportedly.
More on this breaking story as details become available.
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The Daily Sentinel Managing Editor Sarah Hawley contributed to this story.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.