UPDATE – Section of Miss. coast span knocked out by barge

Published 6:42 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

The Popp’s Ferry Bridge in Biloxi was closed Friday after a barge knocked out a large section of the heavily traveled drawbridge.

Officials said bridgetender Margaret Johnson was the only person on the bridge at the time and was able to escape. Her car ended up in the water.

The Coast Guard said reports it received indicate the tugboat Cheryl Stegbauer with eight barges collided with the bridge, knocking out a 150-foot section. The draw portion of the bridge was in an upright position at the time to allow the barges to pass.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Coast Guard sent boats and aircraft to the area to provide assistance to local officials and said investigators were being dispatched.

Officials said that following the Friday morning collision, one barge sank and a second appeared to be taking on water. The barge that hit the bridge may have been loaded with gravel or limestone, officials said.

Traffic was being diverted around the bridge area.

Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown said in a statement that the state Department of Transportation would work with local officials to provide emergency detours.

“Crews have placed barricades and changeable message boards to help redirect traffic while the onsite assessments and repairs are conducted,” Brown said.