Barge hits Mississippi River bridge at Natchez

Published 4:47 pm Thursday, January 25, 2007

A barge sideswiped a piling on the Mississippi River Bridge at Natchez on Wednesday, but officials said there was minimal damage to the bridge or the barge.

The span linking Natchez and Vidalia, La., remained open. The Mississippi Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard had crews on the scene to inspect the structure.

MDOT bridge maintenance supervisor Buddy Vines said the southbound barge hit the support on the Vidalia side of the older westbound bridge about 6 a.m.

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Vines said the tugboat pilot told officials that river currents caused him to lose some control of the barges upriver, and he couldn’t correct his course by the time he came to the bridge.

The pilot of the tugboat City of Cleveland would undergo drug tests, a routine step, Vines said.