East freeway still closed after barges hit San Jacinto Bridge

Barges have been successfully removed

CHANNELVIEW, Texas – Barges that broke loose from their moorings Thursday night were successfully removed from underneath the I-10 San Jacinto bridge in Channelview on Sunday, according to the San Jacinto River unified command.

“This was a very complex operation that was completed with no pollution or injuries to responders,” said Cmdr. Nicole Rodriguez, federal-on-scene coordinator for the response. “I’d like to thank our state, local and response partners who helped ensure the success of the removal.”

What happened?

Shortly after midnight Thursday, nine barges broke loose from their moorings. Two of the barges collided with the I-10 bridge that spans the mouth of the San Jacinto River.

Officials blamed rushing currents and high winds. 

Even though the rain has died down, people across the area still feeling the effects of Imelda.

Freeway continues to be closed

Here's the Magnolia Street intersection, where eastbound drivers are being forced to exit.

Here's the Crosby-Lynchburg exit, where westbound drivers are being forced to exit.

How long will the freeway be closed?

The I-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River remains closed due to damage that was sustained during impact. State officials said they're unsure how long the bridge will be shut down. 

Officials said the waterway under the bridge will remain closed to all vessel traffic due to the damage.

As of Monday, TxDot said they have started to set up the eastbound side of the bridge to accommodate both west and eastbound traffic. A concrete barrier will be going up to reconfigure the roadway and could be finished later this week. 

Texas Department of Transportation officials are assessing the damage. A spokesperson said the west side of the bridge's supports appears to have taken the brunt of the damage.

Impact on drivers

The closure will have a massive impact on drivers.

One man said it will add about 10 to 20 miles to his commute. Another said it would add at least an hour to his commute to work and two hours on the way home.

It's the second time this year that the bridge has been closed due to barge damage.

"Somebody needs to put some barge bumpers up there and stop this," one driver said.

The Harris County Toll Road Authority is waiving tolls at the Sam Houston Tollway Ship Channel Bridge due to the closure.

Two barges struck the San Jacinto Bridge Thursday. The East Freeway is closed until TxDot officials can inspect the bridge.

Impact on the environment

Officials said one of the barges that struck the bridge is loaded with naptha and the other is full of monoethylene glycol, which is used in antifreeze. Authorities said there appears to be no pollution from the accident.

About the Authors:

Award-winning journalist, mother, YouTuber, social media guru, millennial, mentor, storyteller, University of Houston alumna and Houston-native.

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.