PULASKI COUNTY, AR — The Arkansas I-30 bridge was closed for an hour Friday night, August 23, after multiple barges broke loose from a tow boat on the Arkansas River and crashed into pier protectors in front of the Clinton bridge. The pedestrian spans reopened after a state inspector determined the bridges themselves were not damaged.
According to a Washington Post article, the head of the Arkansas Waterways Commission and the North Little Rock Fire Department inspected the bridges in daylight Saturday and found the damage was limited to fresh scrapes on the concrete-capped pier protectors.
“We’re grateful that the devices worked,” said Gene Higginbotham, executive director of the commission. “They’ve done a good job. That’s why you have the devices.”
Higginbotham told the media that the barges, pushed by the MV Midland, made only a glancing blow to the I-30 bridge and a pedestrian span near the Clinton Presidential Library that is part of a riverfront trail.
Witnesses said that the sound of those barges smashing into a protective cell was the first thing that they heard.
“It really started making just horrible metal noises,” said witness Nicki Cassady.
Witnesses told the media that the barges began to break apart and crashed into cells in front of the Clinton bridge as well.
“Two barges went that way and four went that way, some went down stream,” Cassady said.
The incident remains under investigation at this time.