On October 21, 2009 a barge crashed into the downtown marina in Houma, Louisiana causing significant damage to both the bulkhead of the barge and the marina’s bayou overlook.
The barge was being pulled by two tugboats. It was headed toward the Main Street and Park Avenue twin span bridges when the barge hit a group of metal pilings on the east Houma side of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The impact caused the barge to swerve and hit a similar group of pilings and the marina overlook on the other side of the waterway. The cost of repairs will be between $150,000 and $175,000; the damage will be covered by Marquette Transportation, the tugboat’s insurance company.
Lt. Jason Boyer of the Coast Guard reported that the barge was traveling at 3 ½ knots (approximately 4 miles per hour). This speed was too fast to successfully and safely navigate the bridges. He also said that the barge was off center as it was tugged through the waterways. Because of the speed, position, and small maneuvering space, it was impossible to prevent further damage once the first group of pilings was hit. The accident is being blamed on human error. The Coast Guard does not plan to take actions.
On the next day, October 22, a barge broke free from a tow and slammed into the U.S. 80 and Interstate 20 bridge supports on the Mississippi River. Only a week earlier, a man fell off a barge and into the Chesapeake Bay.