BAYTOWN, Texas (FOX 26) — Traffic delays continued on Interstate 10, the East Freeway, near Baytown on Tuesday, one day after a barge struck the bridge over the San Jacinto River, damaging a pillar in the process.
All East Freeway westbound lanes were closed for several hours on Tuesday afternoon to allow crews to re-stripe the road. Those stripes will direct traffic to drive on the shoulder until the bridge can be repaired.
Drivers spent the afternoon trying to navigate their way around a blocked on-ramp to I-10 at Crosby Lynchburg Road in Highlands.
“If you do not have to travel in that area, plan an alternate route,” said Texas Department of Transportation public information officer Deidrea George.
TxDOT said the re-striping will help keep two lanes of traffic open, one less than the original three, while repairs are made to the damaged bridge.
"We have not started the repairs,” said George. “We will be getting an emergency contract in the next few days.”
Repairs are expected to take several days.
"The bridge is actually safe for travel,” said George.
The two left westbound lanes will remain closed during repairs.
“We do have those lanes closed because that is where the point of impact was,” said George.
TxDOT said it will be making a damage claim to the responsible party, the owner of the barge named Lindbergh Crosby.
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the crash. Coast Guard officials said they could adjust the barge operator’s license depending on what they find out about why the barge struck the pillar.
There were no reports of injuries in the barge collision.
Coast Guard officials said the bridge is approved for access by all water vessels, regardless of size, so there was adequate space for the barge to go through.