Jan 27 2012
11:28 am

And you thought the closing of the Henley Bridge was an inconvenience...

When a 3,950 ton cargo vessel strikes a bridge, leaving the girders wrapped around its bow, I wouldn't call this a "bridge collapse."

No one was injured in this incident, however, traffic crossing Land Between the Lakes must now route through either Grand Rivers at the northern end of Kentucky Lake or Paris Landing at the southern end to get east and west.

The Delta Mariner was apparently attempting to traverse under the bridge using the recreational channel rather than the navigational channel; it was heading from Decatur, AL northbound. (In the picture below, you can see the river gage painted on one of the columns to the left of the boat. The bow of the boat points north, i.e. towards Kentucky Dam at Grand Rivers.)

The bridge, built in 1932, was in the process of being replaced (courtesy in part due to Recovery Act funds). However, that work was not due to start until 2013.

Perhaps the company that owns the Delta Mariner can provide a free ferry service in the interim.

R. Neal's picture

Saw that story this AM but

Saw that story this AM but nobody had any photos. Did you take those? You should send them to AP.

I'm surprised it didn't crush the bow of the ship. It must be tougher than the 80 year old steel trestles.

Andy Axel's picture

Photos are from WKDZ (Cadiz

Photos are from WKDZ (Cadiz KY) radio.

Yeah, I was wondering where all of the concrete went. No photos showing the top of the vessel. The operator of the vessel has yet to comment anywhere about what happened, but it's pretty evident that they chose the wrong slot. The nav channels are clearly marked, the gage on the column sort of is a bright white flag saying, "Hey, go under here, big barges." Supposedly they make this trip often. The river is running pretty high right now, but it looks like there would have been sufficient clearance if they'd stuck to the channel maintained by the Coast Guard and by the Army Corps of Engineers. And don't these damn boats have GPS? This accident seems to be the result of dipshittitude.

That bridge is a bit of a sphincter-clencher when you're driving across it (it's really really narrow). I'm not sad to see it go, but it's a real drag if you're trying to get from Cadiz to Murray (or from Barkley Lodge to Kenlake Lodge) and it's not there anymore.

bizgrrl's picture

Wow! Glad no drivers got

Wow! Glad no drivers got caught on that span of the bridge at the time of the collision.

R. Neal's picture

According to the AP report,

According to the AP report, some guy traveling with his family saw the missing span at the last second and managed to stop within 5 feet of going over.

Andy Axel's picture

I can believe it. The bridge

I can believe it. The bridge has no top lighting, and it's certainly not good viz during a rainstorm.

Min's picture


How embarassing.

djuggler's picture

Did the captain manage to

Did the captain manage to trip into a lifeboat?

R. Neal's picture

According to news reports,

According to news reports, the U.T. Chattanooga tennis team had just crossed the bridge in their bus moments the collision.

Rachel's picture

Been over that bridge many

Been over that bridge many times. In my last TVA job, my dept. provided IT service for Land Between the Lakes and I made a few trips down to visit.

Having that bridge out will be a MAJOR inconvenience for folks who live and work around there. Hope the barge company is held sufficiently liable.

Andy Axel's picture

That barge company is Foss

That barge company is Foss Maritime.


Foss International provides international cargo delivery and full-service cargo logistics. The division serves commercial, government and military markets, delivering cargo in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Persian Gulf, East and West Africa. The division also operates the M/V Delta Mariner, which carries rocket components to Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg (California) Air Force Base for the United Launch Alliance.

That's not to say that the pilot of the ship is a rocket scientist. "Red, Right, Return" is fairly elementary.

ETA: See that white paint on the column to the left? That's a clearance gauge and it should be on the starboard (right) side of the vessel as it transits under the bridge.

Clearance Gauges are extremely valuable to vessel operators because they indicate the vertical distance (clearance) between the "low steel" of the bridge channel span and the waterline (they do not indicate the depth of water under the bridge). These gauges are permanently fixed to the bridge pier or structure and located on the right side of the channel facing approaching vessels. Each gauge is marked by black numbers and foot marks (lines) on a white background board.

It missed the sailing lane / navigation channel by about 1000 feet ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE GAUGE.

Andy Axel's picture

Fair enough, but if this

Fair enough, but if this vessel was traveling northbound from Decatur AL, it would have passed through the lock at Pickwick Landing before getting to Eggner's Ferry. You would think that the Corps would look at the height at the waterline on this monster and either warn them about the high discharge conditions of late, or if it was an issue, refuse passage.

As far as the saving graces, it's evidently far enough out of the sailing lane that barges can still pass. I think USCG/ACE is evaluating where all of the debris went.

(Wonder how fast it was going. 8,000,000 dry pounds going at even 1 or 2 kt is a massive amount of force.)

redmondkr's picture

Great Photos

I heard the story on WUOT this morning. They said the bridge was 'down' but I didn't realize it was wrapped around the bow of the boat.

Ben.V's picture

Nope, that is no bridge

Nope, that is no bridge collapse. That picture speaks a thousand words. I am so glad that nobody was hurt in this rather unfortunate and expensive accident. I'm sure they won't make that mistake again.


When a barge runs into a bridge destroying it using different styles, people can hardly call it a bridge collapse but luckily nobody was injured throughout the whole thing.

fischbobber's picture

You are correct

The bridge is clearly gone. No one can ever destroy it again.

Pam Strickland's picture

My cousin teaches middle

My cousin teaches middle school English nearby. It knocked out Internet services to some homes in the area. She's having to stay after school so that her students can use the ainternet at school to do a research assignment. They aren't sure yet how long it will be before they get it fixed, but she knows that she's got to prepare her students for doing Internet research.

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