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Evacuations slowly resume on Pelican Island Causeway after barge hits bridge

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

The bridge connects the north side of Galveston Island just west of the Port of Galveston with the south side of Pelican Island.

GALVESTON, Texas β€” A barge hit the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge leading to a closure in both directions Wednesday morning, according to officials.

It happened just before 10 a.m. Crews from the Texas Department of Transportation went to the scene to assess the damage. The bridge remained closed until it was deemed safe to use. City officials said there were no reported injuries.

Around 2:30 p.m., one lane of the causeway reopened, allowing those who were stranded on Pelican Island to leave, but around 6:30 p.m., the bridge was once again closed down after officials said it started to shift. A line of cars was stuck on the island and officials said they were working to come up with an evacuation plan.

Around 9 p.m., officials said evacuations were once again underway, but slowly and carefully.

Power was temporarily interrupted to Pelican Island, which is home to Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Aerial views from Air 11 showed that a part of the train trestle that runs along the bridge had collapsed.

The bridge connects the north side of Galveston Island just west of the Port of Galveston with the south side of Pelican Island. It's the only road on and off Pelican Island.

City officials said Harborside Drive was open to east-west traffic but drivers wouldn't be able to turn north toward Pelican Island from 51st and Harborside. Galveston police officers detoured traffic.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said the bridge was in bad shape before Wednesday's crash and had a dismal rating from TxDOT.

"It's old. It's 64 years old by our guess and need of replacement, it should've been replaced years ago but it hasn't been yet," Henry said.

His primary concerns now are getting those stuck on the island off and cleaning up what's spilled into the water.

"The fuel oil seeping into the intercoastal waterway caused them to shut down the intercoastal waterway, so we want to get that cleaned up so we can open again as fast as we can," he said. "The power went out in all of the stores and apartments and the schools over there."

Luckily, power was restored to the island.

Elizabeth Garcia was able to get off the island before the bridge was shut down.

"I've got to go pick up my grandkids at 4:00. I was real worried I wasn't going to make it," she said.

Even though she had to wait several hours to leave, she won't be among those forced to stay on the island.

Joshua Martinez and his girlfriend Preston were turned away Wednesday evening when they tried to walk across the bridge to get back on the island.

He's a bartender on Pelican Island and Preston goes to Texas A&M Galveston and lives there.

Preston told KHOU 11 News she is worried about her cat stuck inside her apartment.

Intracoastal Waterway closed in Galveston

While vehicle traffic was halted on the bridge, it also stopped vessels in the water.

Emergency officials said Martin Petroleum owns the barge that hit the bridge.

There is an oil spill and city officials said the U.S. Coast Guard is on scene to assess that. Emergency officials said the capacity of the barge is 30,000 gallons and the amount that leaked was unknown.

As of about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Coast Guard officials said the oil leak had been stopped.

The leak caused the closure of a section of the Intracoastal Waterway from Mile Marker 350.5 to Mile Marker 357 -- approximately 6.5 miles.

At approximately 10:00am, a barge owned by Martin Petroleum collided with the Pelican Island Bridge that connects Galveston Island to Pelican Island. Power was temporarily interrupted to Pelican Island, which is home to Texas A&M Galveston. Secondary power has been restored. pic.twitter.com/5zTOs2ODIb

β€” Galveston County OEM (@galvcountyoem) May 15, 2024

Texas A&M University at Galveston

Pelican Island is home to Texas A&M University at Galveston.

University officials are assessing the impact on campus.

University officials said Captain's Landing was open and available for dining needs for those stuck on Pelican Island.

Sea Aggie Alert: The Pelican Island Bridge is closed to all traffic at this time due to a barge strike. Electricity has been restored and additional updates will be provided as the situation unfolds. The next scheduled update will be at 1200. pic.twitter.com/s9pObegbJU

β€” Texas A&M Galveston πŸ‘πŸŒŠ (@AggiesByTheSea) May 15, 2024

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