Mooring failed to hold barge that hit bridge

Maryland

March 16, 2006|By ANNIE LINSKEY | ANNIE LINSKEY,SUN REPORTER

The unmanned barge that hit the Severn River Bridge on Tuesday did not break free from its mooring, as initially reported, but dragged the mooring down the river with it, a U.S. Coast Guard investigator said yesterday.

The 180-foot barge was carrying more than 600 tons of rock and tree branches when it struck the bridge at 10:32 a.m. Tuesday, Lt. Connie L. Williamson of the Coast Guard said. U.S. 50 traffic was halted as officials inspected the bridge for structural damage, but the State Highway Administration determined that the bridge was safe and it was reopened two hours later.

It is not clear why the barge dragged its mooring, but Williamson noted that high winds out of the northwest could have contributed. She said the wind speeds were at 22 knots with gusts of 28 knots.

Langenfelder Marine, based in Stevensville, owns the barge and had leased it to Anderson Marine Construction, a Severna Park company, for shoreline construction work in Luce Creek, Williamson said.

Langenfelder moored the barge at the mouth of the river March 6, Williamson said. The barge was too big to go into Luce Creek, so construction workers used a smaller vessel to ferry the materials to shore, Williamson said.

Coast Guard officials expect their investigation to be complete by the end of the week. If a violation is found, either company could receive a civil penalty -- usually a fine ranging from $1,000 to $32,500.

Officials at Langenfelder and Anderson did not return phone calls yesterday.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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