Wednesday, December 06, 2006

bridge closed??!!!

I hear it has been closed as a "precautionary measure."
Did a barge hit something?
Does anyone have any info?

Update: The bridge was closed - apparently for a couple of hours - this evening when a barge hit one of the new dolphins built after the collapse in 2001. The thing did its job and protected the bridge from any structural damage. Or that was the news floating around the BOA meeting tonight. (More on that tomorrow.)

Update #2: (press release)
- From The Texas Department of Transportation

Subject: Pier Protection System protects Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge

For Immediate Release, December 06, 2006

Pier Protection System protects Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge

Cameron County- Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge was NOT hit by a barge
earlier this evening. The Pier Protection System installed along the bridge
was the structure hit by the barge, which saved the bridge from any damage
or collapse. The bridge has been opened to traffic.

The Pier Protection System was installed in 2004 to protect the bridge from
incidents like todays.

-30-

For more information, please call Amy Rodriguez at (956) 239-1671 or (956)
702-6102.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Pedro said...

Barge hits causeway column, shutting down South Padre bridge

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — A barge struck a buffer on the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway on Wednesday, shutting down the bridge that links South Padre Island to the rest of Texas.

No one was hurt in the accident, which occurred on the same bridge where a September 2001 barge accident caused part of the roadway to fall and kill eight motorists.

Investigators think a cable on a barge being tugged with two others snapped or became loose. It appears the barge struck a rubber buffer and came to rest on a concrete structure supporting the bridge, said Lt. Charles Hawkins, commanding officer of the Coast Guard station in South Padre Island.

Since weather and current patterns didn't seem unusual, equipment malfunction appears to have caused the problem. The pilot and captain passed alcohol tests, Hawkins said.

The accident remains under investigation.

A warning system in place alerted motorists to the danger and crossing bars dropped to keep vehicles from crossing, said Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa.

State transportation engineers were dispatched to inspect the causeway.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't we have a second bridge - I spent 3 hours in PI - not that another "northern" bridge would have made the wait time any quicker - THIS TIME. What is the status on a second bridge? Thank god I only had self-sufficient animals waiting - had a friend with an invalid mother stranded on the isla, - it took several phone calls to make that a safe situation. Love living on an isla but more than one way out/on is really necessary!!!!

7:55 PM  
Blogger Pedro said...

Here comes the 2nd bridge storm; second verse. "When will we ever learn?"

11:33 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

My understanding is that the warning system on the bridge top did not trigger. It was designed to trigger if there was a structural failure (pezioelectric cable). The barge did not hit the bridge, it hit the safety pier. Think about it - it the system tripped, the cars would all be stuck ON the bridge because all the warning arms would go down.

So much for our fearless community leaders.

As to the bridge, you do know that TXDOT has allowed the RMA to proceed with a study for a second bridge, right? The environmental study is required by law and the economics of funding the contruction, operation, and maintenance of the bridge must be clearly presented.

So just because you don't hear much doesn't mean nothing is being done. It takes years to do this kind of thing. Think like ten years or so before you can drive on it.

What does cause my some pain (or at least second thoughts) was in its haste to consider the second bridge, it automatically chose the tollway option for funding. Let's get this right here - you have a free bridge and a nice new one that costs five bucks to cross - which one are you going to take?

Oh I get it, use the old bridge until it falls down or a hurricane is coming, then jump on the new one for free. Silly me, I wasn't thinking!

11:39 AM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Personally, I am in no hurry to see another bridge get built. Maybe I am just a silly romantic but I kinda like living somewhere that isn't always easy to access. It's an island, for cryin' out loud! It's not for everyone - thank goodness! You gotta be rough and tough and have a bit of an adventurous spirit to live here and sometimes you have to stop and drink the coffee on the wrong side of the bridge for a while. It's a small enough price to pay IMHO.

...yet another example of my lack of enthusiasm for "progress," I reckon.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 2001 incident still brings me trepidation every time we cross that bridge to arrive at SPI. The angst is probably heightened by the fact that the 12-hr drive there usually has us arriving after dark.

The horrors of that accident were recounted in gorey detail by one of the hosts on a dolphin watch tour, making the horror difficult to shake off.

Thank goodness the buffer performed as it was designed to do. However, I hope its success doesn't lead to over-confidence by those who pass under the bridge. There should be sobering fines to anyone that can't manage to navigate their boat without hitting bridge or buffer.

I'm inclined to agree with Lucinda about a second bridge. Mostly because I fear SPI perhaps becoming more heavily populated by residents or tourists than it already is. I like my Island Paradise just the way it is. Well, if Roanne's would return to its former better self, and a few of the other restaurants would improve a bit, THAT'S what I'd call progress!

5:34 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Mmm, the good old days of Rovan's with Grammy at the door and the old boy's choo-choo going round and round. Man that would be a special article right there ... ah the smell of the bakery was really something.

And you're not the only person to be a little freaked by the bridge after the 2001 collision. But as long as the barges don't keep whacking it, it should last just fine for at least another 20 years.

Putting up another bridge would kinda be like "barge bait" in a weird sort of way.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, Yes, "Rovans" is what I had meant to say (blush).

They were part of the Island's charm - at least the people we encountered there were.

I recall one visit in particular because of a couple of seniors who were dining at the table next to ours. An elderly gentleman wearing flannel pajama bottoms and an apron was pouring sugar from a large sugar-shaker all over his plate of food; and I do mean "pouring." His dining partner had gray hair sculpted into a beehive high upon her head, and was wearing a bright turqoise Mexican dress and big jewelry. The man donning p.j. bottoms and apron would get up and walk behind the bakery counter, so we assumed he worked there - perhaps the owners? Anyway, some might have found them humorous; we thought they were utterly charming.

Never had a bad breakfast there. The servers were friendly and the coffee kept coming.

We miss Rovans with every SPI vacation.

10:26 PM  

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