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I-10 East Freeway in Houston shut down after barges break loose, hit bridge

I-10 East remains shut down near Channelview, just east of Houston.

HOUSTON — All lanes of I-10, the East Freeway, remain closed in both directions at the San Jacinto River just east of Houston. There is no timeline as to when I-10 will reopen.

Views from Air 11 show the bridge appears to have major damage when it was struck by loose barges as remnants of Imelda flooded Houston.

The U.S. Coast Guard tells KHOU 11 nine barges broke loose on the river, and at least two of them struck the bridge.

KHOU 11 obtained incredible drone video showing the aftermath of the barge crash into the bridge.

The Coast Guard said six of the barges have been corralled. Four of those contain soybean oil, one contains caustic soda and another contains lube oil. Two barges are lodged beneath the bridge and include naptha and monoethylene glycol.

The Coast Guard said one of the barges is beached on a mud flat north of the bridge and contains lube oil. They said there are no reports of pollution from the barges involved.

RELATED: Crews remove barges that struck I-10; bridge remains shut down indefinitely

RELATED: I-10 reopen in both directions between Beaumont and Winnie

When will I-10 reopen?

There is currently no timeline for the inspection and reopening of the I-10 bridge near Houston. The I-10 lanes between Winnie and Beaumont have reopened, however.

Because of the closure, tolls on the Sam Houston Tollway Bridge over the Houston Ship Channel are temporarily being waived if drivers want to connect to Highway 90 or Highway 225 to the Fred Hartman Bridge.

Detour: Use Highway 90 through the town of Barrett into Crosby or use the Fred Hartman Bridge/146 between La Porte and Baytown (tolls are waived on Beltway 8-East). You can also use the Lynchburg Ferry, but at last check it still was not up and running due to high water/currents.

Who is responsible?

The investigation into the loose barges and collision is underway. The U.S. Coast Guard released this statement at 7:30 a.m. Friday:

The Coast Guard is responding after at least two barges struck the I-10 San Jacinto River Bridge near Channelview, Texas, Friday.

At 12:05 a.m., Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders received a report that nine barges had broken away from their moorings at the San Jacinto River Fleet, north of the San Jacinto River bridge.

An Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew and a Station Houston 29-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew were diverted to the scene.

Sector Houston-Galveston Vessel Traffic Service had already suspended vessel movement under the I-10 bridge at 7:20 p.m. Thursday due to strong currents. The suspension remains in effect.

Not the first time

In February 2019 the bridge was partially closed when a barge hit it, near the same location as Friday's strike. The damage was not as bad but took about three months to fully repair. The latest incident could take longer.

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