Oklahoma Bridge Reopens After Barge Strike

Engineers' inspection clears structure over Arkansas River
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 31, 2024 11:45 AM CDT
Inspection Clears Oklahoma Bridge After Barge Strike
Damage is seen on a barge after it struck a bridge on the Arkansas River in Sallisaw, Arkansas, on Saturday.   (Dayton Holland via AP)

An Oklahoma highway was reopened Saturday following its closure for a few hours after a bridge over the Arkansas River was struck by a barge. Troopers with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed a portion of US Highway 59 south of Sallisaw around 1:25pm after the barge hit the bridge, the AP reports. No injuries were reported on the highway or the barge, according to state patrol officials. The bridge crosses the Arkansas River where it enters the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir, which is not far from Oklahoma's border with Arkansas.

The highway reopened to traffic around 4pm. "Engineers inspected the structure and found it safe to reopen," the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said in an email. A spokesperson for the highway patrol did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment on whether officials have determined what caused the barge to hit the bridge. The news came as engineers worked Saturday to lift a section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland that was struck last week by a massive cargo ship.

A family fishing the Arkansas caught Saturday's strike on video. "I looked over at my dad and asked if it was going to hit the bridge and he was like, 'I don't think so,'" Dayton Holland, per KFOR. Moments later, she said, "He looked back just before it hit and he's like, 'Yes, it is.'" She described the strike as loud, per KFSM, saying, "It sounded like gunshots going off." The AP has the video here. (More Arkansas River stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.