Another Bridge Struck: Oklahoma Alert

Just one week following a tragic incident where a cargo ship led to the devastating collapse of a bridge in Baltimore, another maritime accident occurred as a barge collided with a bridge over the Arkansas River in Oklahoma. The collision took place on Saturday afternoon, prompting immediate action from the authorities to close the bridge and divert traffic from South U.S. Highway 59 for a detailed examination of the structure.

The cause behind this striking incident remained unclear initially, as reported by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety, as well as the Associated Press. However, following several hours of inspection, the bridge near the entrance of the Kerr Reservoir was deemed safe and reopened to the public.

This incident occurred closely on the heels of a severe accident in Baltimore, where a Colombian cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, resulting in the death of six construction workers who fell into the icy waters below after the bridge gave way.

In the wake of the Oklahoma incident, efforts were still underway in Maryland to address the aftermath of the Baltimore tragedy. Workers were engaged in retrieving the remnants of the collapsed structure from the Patapsco River and off the cargo ship.

The Baltimore disaster unfolded in the early hours as eight construction workers, employed by Brawner Builders, were conducting maintenance work on the bridge. The catastrophic failure occurred rapidly after the collision with the 985-foot long cargo ship, leading to immediate structural collapse into the water below.

The U.S. Coast Guard disclosed that the cargo ship, named the Dali, had been undergoing “routine engine maintenance” at the port and experienced several power outages before the fatal impact. Engineering experts have highlighted the sheer imbalance of force, noting the impossibility of the bridge withstanding a hit from a vessel of such significant tonnage.

Roberto Leon, a Virginia Tech engineering professor, commented to the Associated Press on the inherent vulnerability of bridges to such accidents, stating, “If a bridge pier without adequate protection is hit by a ship of this size, there is very little that the bridge can do.”

Investigations into both the Baltimore and Oklahoma incidents are ongoing, as authorities work to understand the circumstances leading to these tragic accidents and to prevent future occurrences.