Bridges reopen after 26 barges broke loose and floated down Ohio River, damaging a marina

A pair of Pittsburgh-area bridges reopened Saturday morning after 26 barges broke loose the previous night and floated uncontrolled down the Ohio River, damaging a marina, authorities said.

The bridges, about 2.5 miles apart, were closed after the barges – most of which were loaded with dry cargo – broke free after record-breaking rainfall Friday night, according to authorities.

The McKees Rocks Bridge reopened Saturday after it shut down out of “an abundance of caution,” McKees Rocks police said shortly after midnight, authorities said.

The bridge was closed but no damage was found after an inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation bridge unit, said PennDOT spokesperson Steve Cowan.

The West End Bridge was closed in both directions and rail traffic was shut down on the rail bridge to Brunot Island, according to Pittsburgh city officials. Col. Nicholas Melin, commander US Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District, said in a statement Saturday that “all bridges are currently open for vehicular traffic.”

“We had no reports of the West End Bridge being hit,” Cowan said.

“Governmental authorities have informed us that all bridges are currently open for vehicular traffic,” Campbell Transportation Company, owner and operator of the barges, said in a statement.

Campbell Transportation Company said 25 barges had been located. The company said 17 barges were secured and under control, and eight others were found up against Emsworth Locks and Dams.

No hazardous materials were on board the barges, according to Pittsburgh officials. Of the 26 loose barges, 23 were loaded and carrying dry cargo, including coal, according to the news release.

While there have been no reports of people injured, Peggy’s Harbor – a family-owned and operated full-service marina located on the Ohio River – was damaged, the release said. The extent of the damage is unclear.

The incident comes just two weeks after the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed when it was struck by a cargo vessel, killing six construction workers and leaving commuters and workers in limbo.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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