Barge traffic on Ohio River halted over weekend after railroad b - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Barge traffic on Ohio River halted over weekend after railroad bridge cable snaps

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Barge traffic on the Ohio River came to a halt for about 48 hours over the weekend after a cable snapped on a railroad bridge near the McAlpine Locks & Dam at Louisville.

A piece of the motor that controls the Fourteenth Street Bridge's cable pulley system – allowing part of the bridge to be raised for river traffic -- broke late Friday afternoon, said John Goldman, President of the Louisville & Indiana Railroad Co., which owns the span.

“As you could imagine, it's not a quick fix,” Goldman said.

The backups affected vessels moving in both directions – downstream toward Paducah and upstream toward Cincinnati – and led to 19 downstream-bound barges stuck during the weekend, said Carol Labashosky, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Labashosky said towboats and barges began moving again through the locks Sunday evening and any congestion should be relieved by Monday night.

Matt Akins, fleet manager of CGB Marine fleeting service, said there were “significant” delays on the river, where water levels are higher than normal because of recent heavy rains.

“The current is swifter, so with more traffic you're also susceptible to more accidents with the river being what it is,” he said. Akins said he wasn't aware of any accidents during the shutdown.

The downtown section of the Ohio River Bridges Project wasn't affected, but work there has been limited due to high water levels and swift currents, said Mindy Peterson, a project spokeswoman.

Louisville & Indiana Railroad's Goldman said it's unclear why the motor part broke but weekly inspections didn't indicate any fatigue. The bridge, which dates from 1870, is undergoing a “reliability project” that will add new electrical service and panels, remove old equipment and installing modern motors for the lift, he said.

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